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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

 
FAQ

Birth Control Options

 

Oral Contraceptive Pills

What is it?

"The Pill" is a simple and highly effective method of contraception for women. Pills must be taken once a day, at a specific time and is prescribed by a health professional.
There are two main types:

1. Combination pill, which contains both estrogen and progesterone

2. Progestin-only pill (or mini-pill), which contains progesterone only
One hormone pill is taken each day for 21 days, followed by one hormone-free week. (You should expect your period during this hormone-free week)



How does it work?

  • Stops the ovaries from releasing eggs
  • Thickens the cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to get to the egg
  • Changes the lining of the uterus, making implantation difficult




How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?

Oral contraceptive pills are about 99.9% effective if taken exactly as prescribed. However, there is a 3% user failure rate.



What are the advantages?

  • One of the most effective, reversible birth control methods (when taken consistently)
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Regulates the menstrual cycle
  • Reduces menstrual cramping
  • Reduces menstrual flow
  • Does not interfere with sex
  • Decreases acne
  • Reduces the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer
  • May reduce perimenopausal symptoms




What are the disadvantages?

  • The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
  • Hormones may cause side effects, such as: bleeding between periods (break-through bleeding), nausea and vomiting, headaches, breast tenderness and moodiness. These side effects generally disappear after a few months.
  • Must be taken at the same time every day
  • Effectiveness may be reduced by other medications
  • Need a prescription
  • Should not be used by women over the age of 35 who smoke
  • May increase the risk of blood clots, particularly in women who have certain blood disorders or a family history of blood clots
  • May not be suitable for breastfeeding women or women who cannot take estrogen because of a medical condition. The progestin-only pill may be offered for these women.

 

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