Birth control pills, often referred to simply as “the pill,” are a method of contraception that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. They come in two types: the combination pill, which contains both estrogen and progestin hormones. These are the most common type of contraceptive pills. The second type is the progestin-only pill, or mini-pill, which does not contain estrogen.
How do the pills work
These pills work by preventing the sperm from meeting with the egg. In simpler terms, they help prevent fertilization. The hormones found in the pill are also designed to stop ovulation safely. This means that the egg will not be released, and therefore there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. Finally, the pills can also work by thickening the mucosal layer on the cervix. The thickening of the cervical mucus helps block the sperm from swimming to the egg. The layer functions as a security guard, hence preventing pregnancy. The method through which the pill prevents pregnancy depends on the type and the brand.
Benefits of using birth control pills
They are highly effective
These pills are 99% effective if they are taken correctly. Most of the time, your doctor will recommend a daily pill schedule that you must follow strictly. You must also ensure that you start new packs on time and not skip any day. However, it’s not uncommon for women to forget to take the pills exactly as prescribed. For this reason, they are reported to be about 91% effective. Therefore, they are highly effective in preventing pregnancy.
They help regulate menstrual cycles
These pills help balance hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout a menstrual cycle. By doing so, the pills can help relieve a wide range of menstrual challenges like irregular periods. Contraceptive pills also help with heavy bleeding and alleviation of symptoms of polycystic ovarian symptoms.
They help reduce acne
These contraceptive pills contain hormones that have been shown to help relieve skin conditions like acne. This is especially the case if the acne is caused by hormonal imbalance. The pills help restore the balance of the hormones, hence eliminating the acne. Progesterone and estrogen, the most effective acne-fighting hormones, are packed in these pills.
They help reduce period pains
According to research, up to 30 percent of women experience period cramps. The pills have been known to assist with this issue by preventing ovulation. Ovulation usually results in contractions of the uterus, which result in cramps. Therefore, by blocking ovulation, the pills prevent menstrual cramps.
They help relieve the symptoms of PMS and PMDD
Statistics show that many women experience physical and emotional symptoms in weeks or days leading up to their periods. These symptoms are known as PMS. On the other hand, PMDD refers to premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This is a severe form of PMS with more emotional and psychological symptoms, primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations. Hormonal contraceptive pills help relieve these symptoms by alleviating hormonal imbalances.
They help with the management of endometriosis
Endometriosis is a painful condition that develops when the tissue lining of the uterus grows in places other than within the uterus. When the tissue bleeds during your period, it causes inflammation and pain. Hormonal contraceptive pills allow you to skip periods, hence eliminating these painful symptoms.
There are several other benefits other than the ones listed above.
Drawbacks and side effects
These pills also have some drawbacks and side effects. They include;
- They can increase blood clots and high blood pressure, especially if you smoke and are over 35 years old
- They may cause side effects like nausea and headaches
- They can also cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, especially during the first few months of use
- They do not protect against STDs and STIs
Birth control pills are generally safe and effective. However, they also feature some side effects and drawbacks. The side effects usually differ from one person to the next. Therefore, if you experience any, it would help if you contacted a doctor for assistance.