Oral contraceptive pills are the leading modern contraceptive method in the Philippines. In fact, 51% of Filipino women who use contraceptives take pills.
Pills are over 96 to 99 percent effective (depending on what kind you take) when taken “perfectly”, but becomes 91 percent effective with “typical” use. But wait, do you know what “typical use” means? Typical use means that there is the possibility of some errors such as forgetting to take a pill for a day or more, while perfect use means taking the pill correctly and consistently as directed.
No doubt that the pill is an excellent contraceptive method, but there are some factors that can prevent it from being completely reliable. We’ve listed some of them below.
Forgetting to take the pill
Forgetting to take the pill on some days is the biggest reason why it fails. A missed pill doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get pregnant, but it will increase the chances.
Leaving gaps in between packs may also not guarantee full protection against pregnancy. It’s very crucial to start immediately with a new pack once you’ve finished the previous one.
Setting an alarm or marking your calendar might help you get used to taking the pill.
Without the pills, your menstrual and fertility cycle highly relies on the flow of your hormone levels. These hormones are responsible for ovulation, the release of an egg cell from the ovary. If this egg cell was successfully fertilized by a sperm cell, that’s when a pregnancy will likely happen.
Taking pills consistently will control your hormones, and thus also controlling things happening in your body. The pills will prevent the egg cell from being released, and thicken cervical mucus to stop sperm cells from reaching the egg cell. This is why it’s important to take your pills at the same time every day, especially if you’re using progestin-only pills because you can only be delayed within 3 hours from your usual scheduled time. Timing isn’t as strict if you’re using combined oral contraceptive pills, but it’s still better to be consistent with your timing so that the habit of taking pills stays with you.
A study conducted in 2005 found that women with a BMI of 27.3 or higher have a 60% higher risk of getting pregnant while on the pills, compared to women who have a normal or mildly overweight range BMI. Those with BMIs higher than 32.2 have over 100% higher risk of becoming pregnant while taking pills. Generally, the effectiveness of pills decreases as your weight or BMI increases.
Pills might not be able to fully protect you if you are overweight or obese. Don’t worry! There are a lot of other contraceptive methods to choose from. The best way to find out what suits you perfectly is by talking to your doctor about it.
Some seizure or migraine medications, antibiotics, antidepressants, and antiretroviral medications (for HIV) have the potential to interfere with the effectiveness of oral contraceptive pills. If you’re taking any medication, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor whether it will affect your pills.
Digestive disorders, vomiting, and diarrhea can affect the absorption of the pills in your body. When this happens, your body isn’t able to fully get and use the components of the pills, and thus possibly decreasing its effectiveness.