Oral contraceptive pills, also known as ‘birth control pills’ have been around since the 1960s. It is one of the most effective contraceptive methods available to women across all age brackets who are sexually active.
Birth control pills are widely used for two reasons:
Prevent unplanned pregnancy
Regulate irregular or heavy period, and treat medical conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome.
What are the types of Birth Control Pills?
Over the years, two types of birth control pills have been developed. Each type of birth control pill contains certain hormones. These are:
1. Progestin-only pills
These pills are also called ‘mini pills’. They contain only progestin. It is recommended for women who cannot take estrogen for medical reasons. They only come in a 28-day pack, which means it follows a monthly period cycle.
2. Combination pills
The more commonly used birth control pill between the two types, the combination pill has three sub-types:
Monophasic pills: Available in one-month cycles, each monophasic pill contains the same amount of hormone. The woman takes the active pills for the first three weeks and the inactive pills during the last week to get her period.
Multiphasic pills: These contain varying levels of both the hormones. To get the period, you take the inactive pills during the last week.
Extended -cycle pills: These pills are taken to get your period only 3-4 times a year. These pills come in a 91-day cycle, i.e. 13- week cycle. You take the inactive pills during the 13th week to get your period.
The pills prevent pregnancy by stopping ovulation and thickening the mucus in the cervix.
How effective are birth control pills?
When used correctly every time, oral contraceptives are 99% effective. However, with typical use, which acknowledges the fact that sometimes the individual can forget to take the pill or take the pill incorrectly, the pill is 91% effective.
This means that with perfect use, one out of 100 women on the pill can get pregnant each year, while with typical usage, nine women out of 100 will get pregnant every year. The effectiveness of the pill reduces significantly if you miss a pill, or have diarrhoea or vomiting for about 48 hours or more. Certain lifestyle habits like smoking; a medical history of breast cancer, high blood pressure, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, liver disease; or being older than 35 can influence the efficacy as well as increase the risk of complications arising from taking birth control pills.
You should consult your doctor before starting any oral contraceptives as they can comprehensively assess the risks and benefits of this method of birth control for you.
How long after taking the pill, is it effective?
Depending on the type of birth control you use, it may take up to 7 days for the birth control to be effective.
If you start taking them within five days of your period starting, you will be protected from an unwanted pregnancy right away. For example, if you get your period on a Sunday, then by Friday morning, you need to start on the pill for it to be effective right away.
At any other time during your menstrual cycle, you need to take the combination pill for seven days before it starts being effective. Until then, you need to use another contraception such as a condom to prevent pregnancy.
You can start the mini-pill at any point in your menstrual cycle. It will be two days before it is effective. Again, you will need to use a condom to prevent pregnancy during those two days.
What is the correct way of using birth control pills?
Regardless of which type of birth control pill you are on, you need to take one every day. Mini pills need to be taken at the same time every day for them to be effective. Delaying it can lead to the mucous thinning and increase chances of the sperm meeting the egg.
In case of combination pill, as long as you take one every day, the time doesn’t matter. However, you must take one pill at the same time each day as a habit so that you don’t forget it.
If you have a 21-day combination pills pack, then you need to take one pill each day for three weeks. You will get your period during the fourth week when you are not taking any pill. Start another pack after the fourth week, i.e. day 29. You will not get pregnant if you have sex during the fourth week. You can consider Mankind’s Unwanted 21 Days- Regular Contraceptive Tablets, one of the most widely used contraception, for your needs. You will need to start another pack of Unwanted 21 pills from the 29th day.
Take an ‘active pill’ meaning a pill containing the hormones, each day for three weeks. In the fourth week, take the ‘inactive pill’ also known as a placebo or reminder pill. These don’t contain any hormones. Their function is to help you stay on track with a pill-taking regime. One the 29th day, start a new pack, beginning with the active pills.
Take one active pill each day for 12 weeks or three months, and then a week of inactive pills.
These are available only in 28-day packs. All the pills are active pills. Take one every day within the same 3-hour window to avoid a pregnancy. Taking the pill after the 3-hour window greatly increases the risk of pregnancy. You may or may not get your period during the fourth week, and there are chances of spotting throughout the month.
In case you have had unprotected vaginal sex, you can take Mankind’s Unwanted 72 – Emergency Contraceptive Tablet. For more information on this, you can visit www.unwanted21days.com.
It is commendable that you are being responsible in taking the essential steps to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Now that you know the essentials of birth control pills, you can enjoy every aspect of your life without worry.