How birth control pills work | Blog By Dr. Shilva, Paras Bliss, Panchkula
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FAQ’s on Birth Control Pills – Know how they work

FAQ’s on Birth Control Pills – Know how they work

by: Dr. Shilva
Sr. Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology Paras Bliss, Panchkula

How do birth control pills work? 

Most birth control pills are “combination pills” containing a mix of the hormones estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle)

How effective are they? 

If taken correctly they are 99.9% effective.

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Recent studies show that birth control pills increase the risk of breast cancer, depression, and blood clots.

Use of birth pills increased the risk of breast cancer in women with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Women who have such a mutation are already known to have a high risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Are there any other side-effects of using birth control pills?

Other than breast cancer and depression these birth control pills cause Irregular periods, pain during periods Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), hair loss. Other women complain of a severe headache which is a result of hormonal imbalance.

How are regular pills different from the ‘morning after pill’ or the iPill? What are the side-effects of the latter? 

i-pill is only for emergency contraception. It is not a routine method of contraception. It is less effective than birth control bills. Side effects of i-pill include breakthrough bleeding, inter-menstrual bleeding, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness etc.

Studies also say that people are turning to more natural methods of contraception because of health fears – which are some of these methods and how effective are they (in percentage)? 

The natural method of contraception relies on observations about women’s body and menstrual cycle. It includes calendar rhythm method, basal body temperature method, cervical mucus examination, coitus interruptus. When used correctly they are 75% to 80% effective.

Is there any time limit for which it’s okay to use birth control pills?

Birth pills are to be started on day 3 or day 5 of periods and they have to be taken daily for 21 days for better efficacy.

Many are also switching to a smartphone contraceptive app instead- which tracks changes in body temperature over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle and tells users which days they can have sex without risk of pregnancy. How safe is this according to you? 

There is a new trend that now aids the patients – the self-management app tools. Now one can check their health status with the help of smartphone apps. Today there are many apps in a market that claims to identify a woman’s non-fertile days when she is 99 percent safe to have unprotected sex without conceiving.

There are also other studies that say that consumption of birth control pills decreases the chances of getting ovarian and womb cancer. How true is this? 

Using oral contraceptives is one way that many women can reduce their risk of developing ovarian cancer. Oral contraceptives also seem to reduce this risk for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. But birth control pills can increase breast cancer risk in women without these mutations.

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