The increasing awareness about planned parenthood and contraception for women has led to more women opting for oral contraceptives. Plus, the fact that as high as 99.7% of potential pregnancies are prevented with the perfect use of these oral contraceptives.
So, if you are looking to get on the pill, you need to ensure that you are suitable for this kind of hormonal intake.
Who can take oral contraceptives?
You can start taking the pill whenever you wish to, as long as you are not already pregnant. However, if you have certain medical conditions, it is best to consult your doctor before deciding to go on the pill.
An oral contraceptive may not be suitable for you if you have uncontrolled blood pressure, have the habit of smoking, have a history of heart disease, history of breast cancer, or have liver complications, and have started breastfeeding within the last 30 days.
If your doctor suggests going on the pill based on your medical history, then the next question is-
Which oral contraceptive should I take?
Once again, your doctor will help you here.
There are two types of birth control pills- combination pills and mini pills. As the name suggests, a combination pill contains oestrogen and progestin, while the mini pill is also called the progestin-only pill.
The type of pill most suited to you will depend on your personal preference, lifestyle, age, and medical history.
Which day should I start taking the pill?
You can start taking your first pill on any one of these three days:
- First period day start
Here, you take the first pill on the first day of your period. You will be protected from pregnancy from the first day itself, so you don’t have to use secondary protection while having sex.
2. Quick start
Regardless of the day of the week, you take the pill. Since the hormonal build-up in your day takes at least a week, you will need to use another form of protection such as a condom while having sex for at least seven days since the first pill.
3. Sunday start
Most birth control pill packs are arranged to start on a Sunday. Take your first pill on the first Sunday after your period begins. For example, if your period starts on Saturday, take your first pill the next day. You will need to use another form of protection for seven days.
Regardless of when you start taking the pill, remember to take the pill at the same time every day. This is to ensure that the hormone build-up is consistent and adequate to prevent ovulation. If you have a long-term sexual partner, you can rope them in to help you stay on track with your pills. If not, then it is good to set a daily reminder for when to take the pills.
What are the types of pill packs?
Most pills come in a 21-day or 28-day pack. The first 21 days include an ‘active’ pill. These pills contain the hormones required to prevent ovulation. Start your next pack of active pills after waiting for seven days. Your period will come at some point in those seven days.
In the 28-days pack, the 22-28 days pills are ‘inactive’ pills or sugar pills. They are essentially placebo pills to ensure that you stick to taking one pill each day. Quite thoughtful, right?
There are 91-day and 365-day pills as well, although not many women prefer this. In the 91-day pack, you take one active pill each day for 84 days and get your period during the inactive pill days. In the 365 days pack, you will not get your period for a whole year, or get a lighter period.
Mankind’s Unwanted -21 is an example of a 21-day pack of combination pills. There is another type of pill that is used during an emergency, for example, if you forgot to use any protection or there was protection failure, you may use Mankind’s Unwanted-72, India’s No. 1 Contraceptive Tablet. It should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
You can choose to get off the pill at any point in your life. There may be some bleeding or spotting along with some irregular periods for a while. Remember that you will start ovulating soon, so if you are looking not to get pregnant, you will need to choose some other form of contraception or birth control.
Lastly, remember that it is your body, your life, and your choice. Take the pill only if you are comfortable with it. Consult your partner and doctor to ensure that you make a decision that’s best for you.