Oral Contraceptive Pills

contraceptive pills, family planning, reproductive health

At A Glance:

  • Convenient.
  • Must remember to take daily.
  • Discreet.
  • 99% effective if taken perfectly; 91% effective with typical use.
  • Many hormonal combinations for women with different needs.
  • Easy to stop at any time.
  • Most pills are available at leading drugstores.
  • Either 21 or 28 pills per cycle available.

What Is It

Oral contraceptive pills are medicine that contains hormones. They are safe, affordable, and effective if they are consistently taken every day at the right time. There are different kinds and brands of pills available in pharmaceuticals, and they offer other health benefits as well, aside from just preventing pregnancy.

Types Of Pills:


Example of a combined pills

Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin that work together with your body to effectively prevent ovulation and pregnancy. A pack of combination pills good for a month includes three consecutive weeks of hormone-based pills, and sometimes a week of placebos (pills with no hormones) or iron tablets that will stimulate your period flow. Combined pills are more commonly used by women who choose pills as their method.


Progestin-only pills are also sometimes called the mini-pill because of their small size. They don’t contain estrogen, and are often given to women who are sensitive to combination pills or are experiencing side effects because of them, and to breastfeeding mothers who need contraception. Progestin-only pills release a small amount of progestin every day for a month (28 pills), and will not induce your period on a set week. If used correctly, less than one woman out of 100 will get pregnant in a year. With typical use, the pill is 91% effective.

Messing up or failure to correctly use are the main reasons why pills lose their effectiveness. Forgetting to take the pills, losing the pack, failure to buy a new pack—these are some of the common mistakes with the pills that can lead to pregnancy. Before deciding to use the pills, it’s good to consider these things first. Here are some ways to help you remember to take your pills every day:

  • Keep a calendar to see when you need to start a new pack.
  • Set an alarm on your phone at a consistent time every day.
  • Pair taking your pill with another activity you do every day at around the same time, such as brushing your teeth or eating breakfast.

How It Works

The hormones estrogen and progestin present are what make the pills work. The estrogen in combination pills primarily works by preventing the egg cell from being released during ovulation, which results in having no egg cell for the sperm cell to fertilize at any point. The progestin in combination and progestin-only pills works by increasing the production of mucus in the cervix and uterus, which prevents the sperm cell from meeting the egg cell.

How To Use It

Taking the pill is no problem, but remembering to take your pill at around the same time every day, no matter where you are or what you’re doing takes a lot of commitment and consistency. Ask yourself: how dedicated are with these kind of things?

If you’re taking the 28-day pill pack, take a pill every day and start with a new pack right after finishing the previous one. If you’re taking the 21-day pill pack, take a pill every day for 21 days, then followed by seven days with no pills. On the 28th day, start on a new pack. It’s important to not skip a pill on the days when you’re supposed to take one.

Your fertility and ability to get pregnant returns in just a few days after stopping the pill, that’s why it’s important to not skip a pill if you have no plans of getting pregnant yet, or use another method of protection as soon as you stop the pill.

The Positives

  • Easy to take—just swallow with water..
  • Doesn’t interrupt sex
  • May make periods lighter.
  • Can let you control when to have your period.
  • Certain pills help clear up acne.
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS.
  • Certain pills may help prevent some health problems such as endometrial and ovarian cancer, anemia, ovarian cysts, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

The Negatives

It’s normal to be worried about the possible experiences of using the pills, but most women did not have a problem with the pills. In case you do experience anything, that may be a sign that your body is adjusting to the hormones you’re introducing to it. These side effects will go away in time once your body has adjusted.

There are some women who may experience these for the first three months:

  • Bleeding in between periods.
  • Sore breasts.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Mood swings.

What may last longer:

  • Change in your sex drive.

Common Misunderstandings

  • Must be taken every day, whether or not a woman had sex that day for oral contraceptive pills to be effective.
  • Does not disrupt an existing pregnancy.
  • If you miss or forget a pill, this method can be less effective.



Please follow and like us:

6 thoughts on “Oral Contraceptive Pills

  1. Hi. Ive been experiencing vagina pelvic pain and lower abdominal cramps while on the 3rd week of birth control. Is this a normal side effect and should I be worried?

    1. Hi, H! Some women may experience mild cramping especially during the first few weeks of taking pills. This is because your body is still adjusting to the hormones. This will eventually go away if you continue taking the pills consistently. However, if the pain is severe and suddent, it’s best to get in touch with your OB/GYN immediately.

    1. Hi Faye! We recommend using Althea. With its anti-androgen components, it can help ease your acne problems. However, having bigger breasts through using pills doesn’t happen to all women.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Modal's Close Icon