First Time Starting The Birth Control Pill? Here’s What To Expect

first time starting birth control here's what to expect symptoms

If you wish to enjoy your sex life without having the trouble to worry about getting pregnant, then opting for birth control pills is the most common solution undertaken by most women. There are some things to expect if you are just starting birth control pills.

These pills are known to increase the amount of estrogen and progesterone so the process of ovulation doesn’t take place. The quantity of these two hormones is heightened so much by these contraceptives that they do not allow the production of other hormones that are required to ripen the egg. Hence, during the time that you take these pills, the menstruation cycle doesn’t occur at all.

It is true that none provide immediate protection against pregnancy from day one.

All modern pills have the same very good safety profile, but it is true that none provide immediate protection against pregnancy from day one. It is ideal to use additional protection for the first 14 days and then you will be safe after this.

Pregnancy risk is 9% if pills are forgotten every now and then.

It is, however, essential to bear in mind that occasional forgetfulness will cause the pill’s contraceptive efficiency to be much lower. Research highlights a pregnancy risk of 9% if pills are forgotten every now and then (vs. a perfect use risk of 0.3%). That is a 30x increase! The fact is that 1 in 10 gets pregnant while on the pill (read more about how to make sure pills work as intended). If you are on the so-called mini pill (progesterone only pill, POP), it is even more important to be on time.

The first three months of using birth control pills can be difficult. It often takes time for your body to adjust, and most women experience at least a few negative (minor) symptoms. Mostly during the first month adjustment bleeding is common. With change bleeding, it is common to see some unexpected spotting even if you aren’t technically on your period. Alternatively, the opposite can occur – some women will stop menstruating altogether. Finally, many may also experience nausea, breast tenderness, weight gain or loss, mild headaches, dizziness, or breakthrough bleeding (spotting) and turbulent emotions during their first few days on the pills.

It often takes time for your body to adjust, and most women experience at least a few negative (minor) symptoms.

Those symptoms normally stop within the first 3 months of taking pills. If these signs continue after three months, return to your clinic or doctor for a follow-up. You may be given instructions to switch to a different type of pill.

You may also need to stick it out for a few months to understand how your body will react to the pill. Of course, if you are experiencing symptoms like extreme and overwhelming nausea or severe weight gain within a few days of taking first pills, contact your doctor.

In general, however, by the third month, emotional fluctuations should be relatively unsubstantial and nausea should no longer be a part of daily living. Breast tenderness should also disappear although you may experience increased breast fullness (it’s apparently rare).

Another thing to take into consideration is that certain medications and supplements can make the pill less effective (read more about what can make birth control pills fail).

Whether you’re just getting started on the pill, or you’ve been taking them for a while, it’s a good idea to fill your doctor in whenever you add something new to your routine. When in doubt, use a backup method of birth control (and even when not in doubt, the pill doesn’t protect you against STDs). And there’s no way to be delicate about this fact: vomiting and diarrhea can also keep the pill from working. So, you know, use a condom.

If you’ve already started taking pills and have been mysteriously symptomless? That’s perfectly okay too! You’re simply one of the lucky ones out there. No need to worry but keep in touch with your doctor.

Did you know that risk of pregnancy with typical birth control pill use is 9%, and that only perfect use gives near 100% efficiency?

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(In a clinical pilot – DOI: 10.15761/COGRM.1000217, conducted by a team of doctor’s including Henna Kärkkäinen, MD, Ph.D., Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heikki Matero Ph.M, Janne Sahlman MD, Ph.D. at the Kuopio University Hospital, it was concluded that an on-demand reminder system increases adherence of birth control pill users. More details regarding this study can be found here. )

 

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Birth Control Pills: 6 Common Side Effects

Birth Control Pill: 6 Most Common Side Effects And Symptoms

Birth control pills are highly effective when taken according to prescription. However, like any medication, birth control pills too come with possible side effects. Knowing the birth control pills side effects will help diagnose any problems that may occur after taking the pill.

What then are birth control pill side effects? Here are a few common adverse reactions that women on pills or considering taking the pills should be aware of. Please note that you should consult your doctor if any of the side effects are prolonged or severe.

  1. Nausea

Nausea is one of the most common birth control pill side effects. It occurs occasionally with the intake of the pill. To avoid nausea, the pill can be taken after eating dinner or before bedtime. The symptoms usually subside after 2-3 months.

  1. Depression

Birth control pills contain synthetic hormones which can have a direct effect on neurotransmitters and may cause an imbalance. This may lead to depression. However, there are several factors that can cause depression and therefore it is important to determine the real cause before passing it off as a side effect of the pill! Read our comprehensive article on do birth control pills cause depression.

  1. Sore or Enlarged Breasts

The pill contains a high dose of estrogen which is a hormone that is most associated with bloating. This may cause your breasts to appear enlarged. Some women even experience breast soreness and tenderness after consuming the pill. However, these are mild hormone changes caused by intake of estrogen and should not lead to any serious health concerns.

 

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  1. Acne

There are several types of birth control pills with a combination of synthetic hormones. Some pills lower the androgen levels and are known to actually decrease the chances of severe acne. At the same time there are pills that contain progestin, which is androgen-based. These pills are known to trigger acne and breakouts on the skin.

  1. Headache

While headaches can occur due to stress and lack of sleep among other factors, the pill can have an effect on headache too. Although it cannot cause the headache, having the pill can make headaches worse in some cases. Women who suffer from sinus and migraines must consult their doctor before taking the pill.

  1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles

Women may experience spotting or light bleeding in the first few weeks of taking the pill. Birth control pill side effects may even include heavier bleeding for some women, in which case a doctor must be consulted with. For smokers it may be helpful as a first measure to avoid smoking or quit altogether. In general smoking can possibly also reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.

What about birth control pills and weight gain? While many women swear they’ve gained weight because of the pill, research does not fully support this view. We’ve written more about do birth control pills make you fat.

Birth control pills can even have other side -effects like yeast infection, blood clots, and infertility in some very extreme cases. It is important to note that any peculiar health issues must be reported to a health professional immediately to avoid any future concerns.

But it’s not all gloomy. Besides from the obvious use to prevent unwanted pregnancy, birth control pills have been discovered to also provide positive side effects. These include easing PMS mood swings, less painful periods, less menstrual migraines and protection against some cancer types (endometrial and ovarian cancer).

 

Related articles


References:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/280881-acne-caused-by-birth-control-pills/
http://bodyecology.com/articles/dangers_birth_control_pill.php
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290196.php
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2815%2900212-0/abstract
http://www.parents.com/parenting/relationships/postpartum-birth-control/side-effects-of-birth-control/

Pill reminders – Can they help you take your pills on time?

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Pill reminder and pill-tracking app is the new mantra used by researchers to improve medication adherence in patients.  

A 2016 poll conducted by Popit Research Labs showed that around 40% of voters relied on their memory to track their pill usage while almost 60% used some form of external pill reminder. Also, multiple studies are suggesting the rise in medication non-adherence due to forgetfulness. There is clearly a need for an external source to keep track of one’s medication usage.

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Do pill reminders work?

With the rise in pill reminder solutions, the first question that pops into your mind is – Do pill reminders actually help? Can they help you take your medications on time? 

According to a randomized clinical trial done in 2018, to check the impact of medication reminder apps to improve medication adherence in a Coronary Heart Disease study, adherence improvement for app users seemed to be ~7.2%. It was concluded that patients who used medication reminder apps had better medication adherence compared to those with usual care.

A study by Cochrane on interventions for medication adherence in the elderly concluded that behavioral and educational interventions along with the aid of simple strategies such as using pill reminders may lead to greater satisfaction in medication management in the elderly.

In a poll conducted by Popit, almost 50% of the users confirmed they have some kind of reminders for pills and they find these useful in tracking their pills for birth control. In a clinical pilot together with a leading university hospital, their pill reminder solution was able to reduce missed pills by over 80% and help build a solid routine around pill-taking.

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Popit Research Labs, 2016

Which is the most effective pill reminder?

With the internet being flooded with various pill reminders apps and medication trackers, how do you know if these are effective or not?  Does it really make sense to invest in one? If yes, then which one?

Pill dispensers are cheap, but using a pill dispenser is more or less relying on your memory. On the other hand, smartphone alarms are free, but most people end up ignoring these alarms as constant notifications can get annoying after a while.

smart sensing device could be another option that you can rely on. This is the world’s first and only tracker for a pill blister that comes with built-in sensors. It can sense when you pop a pill off the blister and notifies you only when you miss a pill. Which means, if you take the pill, you don’t get the daily annoying reminders. Also, there is no manual input needed to keep a track of your pill usage. 

We compiled a comparison chart so you can evaluate which solution is best for you.

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Pill Reminders

How do pill reminders help?

Medication cannot work as intended if it is not taken as prescribed. Consistency and taking pills according to guidance play a key role in any treatment.

Some of the cases where pill reminders have proven to be beneficial include:

1. Avoiding unwanted pregnancy 

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

The risk of pregnancy with a typical birth control pill use is 9% and the pill is 99% efficient only when used perfectly.

By perfect use, it means you have to take the pill every day without fail. You must also take it at the same time day after day. In a recent survey conducted by Popit, more than 1 in 12 women on the pill may have experienced an unintended pregnancy due to missing a pill.

2. Medication adherence in chronic health conditions

Medication non-adherence in chronic health conditions is a recognized public health problem. According to a study conducted by NCBI on unintentional non-adherence of prescribed medication, more than 60% of the test group forgot to take their pills on time.

3. Improved parental or caregiver medication adherence 

To keep a track of someone’s medication is more challenging than managing one’s own treatment. You can easily manage this when you have an app that can notify you whenever they miss their pills.

So, do you need one?

Forgot your pills again? Can pill reminders help? Learn about the different types of pill reminders and which is the most effective one.

Evolution of pill reminders

From the humble reminders such as markings on a calendar to smart sensing devices, pill reminders have evolved over the years. This also confirms the need for an external source to track pill usage apart from relying on one’s memory. Multiple studies are also supporting this claim saying it could be one of the ways to improve adherence in patients.

Pill reminder solutions are usually a one time purchase and cost less than a good pair of sneakers. They are the most reliable alternative to ensuring you take your medicines on time and stay on track. These can also be a thoughtful gift for your loved ones. For, after all, there is no greater gift that you can give or receive than to stay healthy or investing in the good health of your loved ones. 

(In a clinical pilot – DOI: 10.15761/COGRM.1000217, conducted by a team of doctor’s including Henna Kärkkäinen, MD, Ph.D., Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heikki Matero Ph.M, Janne Sahlman MD, Ph.D. at the Kuopio University Hospital, it was concluded that an on-demand reminder system increases adherence of birth control pill users. More details regarding this study can be found here. )

9 Things Thаt Саn Mаkе Birth Соntrоl Pills Fail

Amоng all the mаnу forms оf соntrасерtіvеs available today, the birth соntrоl ріll is one of the most predominant but many things can make birth control pills effectiveness to fail. Birth соntrоl, оffісіаllу knоwn as thе combined oral contraceptive ріll, wоrkѕ by rеgulаtіng hormones іn thе uѕеr, рrеvеntіng оvulаtіоn аnd thеrеbу аvоіdіng соnсерtіоn.

The Pіll іѕ nоt mаgіс, so if іt’ѕ not taken аѕ directed, it’s nоt gоіng to dо its job wеll. Many things can interfere with thе Pill’s level оf effectiveness, causing it to fail оr lеаd tо unрlаnnеd рrеgnаnсу. The following list provides some of the most common causes for why birth control pills fail.

1. Forgetting can make birth control pills fail

Forgetting is the most common reason why birth control pills fail. The Pill in perfect use can be almost 100% effective. However, when life gets in the way and you miss an occasional pill, the efficiency drops by 9% to about 91%.

The fact is that 1 in 10 women experience an unintended pregnancy every year due to forgetting the Pill (read more about how to make sure pills work as intended). In fact, our study in the US with 500 women yielded similar results.

2. Bаd Timing

Timing mаttеrѕ! Aim to tаkе your ріll аrоund thе same time dаіlу because thіѕ helps thе hоrmоnеѕ tо hаvе thе mоѕt соnѕіѕtеnt effect оn your body аnd cycle.

Tаkіng thе ріll within a fеw hours of the same tіmе еасh dау will provide the best protection. This applies especially to the minipill, which contains only one hormone, progestin. For this reason, it is also known as a progestin-only pill, or POP. The minipill should be taken within a 3-hour window every day.

3. Inflammatory bоwеl dіѕеаѕе or оthеr dіgеѕtіvе disorders

Bowel соndіtіоnѕ lіkе Crohn’s dіѕеаѕе and IBD mау prevent thе bоdу frоm аbѕоrbіng аnу oral medication соrrесtlу, іnсludіng the Pіll. Anуthіng thаt interferes wіth thе body’s ability to absorb thе hоrmоnеѕ or іnсrеаѕеѕ the rate аt which thеу metabolize, can dесrеаѕе thе effectiveness of birth соntrоl ріllѕ. Chrоnіс diarrhea can аlѕо impede absorption. In fасt, іf уоu’vе hаd ѕеrіоuѕ dіаrrhеа оr vomiting for two оr mоrе days, уоu ѕhоuld act as thоugh you’ve mіѕѕеd a pill. It is also advisable for women wіth сhrоnіс bоwеl іѕѕuеѕ to сhооѕе a nоn-оrаl method of contraception.

 

4. Stоrаgе Tеmреrаturе Changes

Stоrіng bіrth control ріllѕ іn a bag that can overheat іn thе car оr іn уоur bаthrооm can mаkе thе pills іnасtіvе. Stоrе your bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ іn a сооl place, іdеаllу undеr 75F/25C to maintain high product quality.

5. Mеdісаtіоns

Certain mеdісаtіоnѕ hаvе аlѕо bееn fоund to have an impact оn thе effectiveness оf ѕоmе соntrасерtіvеѕ. Before prescribing new birth control pills your doctor will ask about whether you are currently on any medication. This is not because he would be nosy, but because some medications just don’t work well together.

Antіdерrеѕѕаntѕ ѕuсh аѕ Prоzас (also known as Sarafem, Rapiflux & many more) and Zoloft, аѕ well аѕ dіаbеtіс mеdісаtіоnѕ like Avandia have bееn lіѕtеd аmоng thоѕе that limit thе еffесtіvеnеѕѕ of mоѕt contraceptives.

If уоu’rе tаkіng anti-HIV mеdісаtіоn, the effectiveness of hоrmоnаl birth control pills mау be compromised. At least the following HIV treatments may interfere with the Pill:

  • Lopinavir/ritonavir (trade name Kaletra)
  • Nevirapine (Viramune)
  • Darunavir (Prezista)
  • Efavirenz (Sustiva)

Also, some anti-fungal medications may have issues with birth control pills and vice versa. According to some researchers, the risk is low, but best to still watch out for at least medications containing griseofulvin and ketoconazole.

With anti-seizure meds, it’s a one-way street. They increase the breakdown of hormones in the pills (possibly making them less effective), but the birth control pills do not have an impact on the seizure medication. Look out for at least these substances when if you are on the Pill.

  • Carbamazepine (trade names e.g. Carbatrol, Epitol)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
  • Felbamate (Felbatol)

Sleep treatment medication, more specifically drugs containing modafinil (like Provigil). If your doctor prescribes you with this drug, it may be advisable to seek an alternative contraceptive method for the duration of the treatment and also sometime after it.

For all of the above, do check with your doctor if you are unsure of the compatibility of your current oral contraceptives and any new medication you are about to take. Any time you start or stop a medication you should also have your pharmacist run a drug interaction screen.

 

If I forget to take a pill, I will…

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6. Antibiotics

Should you use a backup contraceptive method while taking antibiotics? At least the latest research points to a negative correlation between antibiotics and birth control pill efficiency, meaning that antibiotics do not reduce the Pill’s efficiency.

There is one important exception: anti-tuberculosis drug rifampin. Rifampin lowers birth control pill effectiveness by decreasing the hormone levels in women who are on the Pill. If you need to undergo rifampin treatment, use of diaphragm, copper IUD or condom is recommended.

7. Fооdѕ

Some hormone-affecting fооdѕ prevent оrаl contraceptives from functioning рrореrlу and can make birth control pills fail. Sеvеrаl соmmоn foods, іnсludіng lісоrісе, уаm, soy, and dаіrу products, саn іmраіr thе еffесtіvеnеѕѕ of оrаl contraceptives. But whеn уоu eat nоrmаl аnd mоdеrаtе amounts оf fооdѕ, thеу аrе unlіkеlу to іntеrасt wіth рrеѕсrірtіоn birth control ріllѕ. Like with many other things in life, moderation is key.

8. Cіgаrеttеѕ

Whеn уоu соmbіnе thе еffесtѕ оf nісоtіnе wіth those of birth control pills, уоu have аn іnсrеаѕеd сhаnсе оf ѕtrоkе and hеаrt аttасk. Thаt’ѕ bесаuѕе nісоtіnе саuѕеѕ the blood рrеѕѕurе to rіѕе and hеаrt rаtе tо ассеlеrаtе. Thе ріll adds mоrе ѕtrеѕѕ tо the blооd vеѕѕеlѕ because of the еxtrа еѕtrоgеn.

Smоkіng, while taking bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ, саn increase уоur risk оf a hеаrt attack аnd іt can also lead to соntrасерtіvе ріll failure. Latest generation birth control pills have however been shown to possibly be safer for smokers.

9. Herbal Remedies Or Supplements

Many herbal remedies or supplements are surprisingly strong and may have unexpected consequences. These are some of the herbal remedies that can cause birth control pills to have a reduced effect:

  • St. John’s wort – Taken for sleep disorders and depression.
  • Garlic pills – For CVD, high cholesterol and to boost the immune system
  • Alfalfa – For prostate, kidney, bladder problems
  • Flaxseed – For constipation and IBS
  • Saw palmetto – For hair loss
  • Soy isoflavones – For menopause and stronger bones

Luсkіlу, nоt аll factors thаt affect bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ rеndеr іt tоtаllу ineffective, but іt’ѕ good tо know which things can make birth control pills fail.

(A clinical pilot – DOI: 10.15761/COGRM.1000217, was conducted by a team of doctor’s including Henna Kärkkäinen, MD, Ph.D, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Heikki Matero Ph.M, Janne Sahlman MD, Ph.D at the Kuopio University Hospital.  The study concludes that an on-demand reminder system increases adherence of birth control pill users. More details regarding this study can be found here. )

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Benefits of Birth Control Pills Beyond Pregnancy Prevention

benefits of birth control

The obvious reason most women take oral contraceptives is to prevent pregnancy. The benefits of birth control pills, however, go far beyond preventing unplanned pregnancies. As a result, there are lots of reasons why doctors prescribe these pills to female patients, as long as they are not currently trying or planning to become pregnant. If you are first time starting your pills, we suggest you reading this incredible article.

Beyond Pregnancy Prevention: 11 Additional Benefits of Birth Control Pills

  1. Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers – Birth control pills have been commonly used since the 1950s, which means lots of scientific studies have been performed over the lifetimes of lots of women. Oral contraceptives have been shown to reduce the risk of uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancers.
  2. Treat Irregular Periods – The menstrual cycle is supposed to take place over a period of 28 days, but many women experience shorter, longer or unpredictable cycles. Birth control eliminates this concern.
  3. Regulation of Menstruation – In addition to knowing when your period will start, oral contraceptives allow women to schedule their periods by skipping the week of inactive pills and immediately beginning a new pack.
  4. Less Painful Periods – Birth control reduces the severity of pain, cramping and other symptoms of menstruation.
  5. Treatment for Menorrhagia (Heavy Bleeding) – On birth control, women experience significantly lighter periods.
  6. Reduce Risk of Anemia – Lighter bleeding also means a lower risk of anemia.
  7. Increased Comfort throughout the Month – The hormones in birth control pills essentially trick the body into thinking it is pregnant. As a result, the ovaries do not release an egg each month. This eliminates the pain and discomfort many women experience in the middle of their cycles.
  8. Reduce or Eliminate Hormonal Acne – The hormonal fluctuations which occur during a menstrual cycle can irritate the skin, causing hormonal acne. Birth control pills effectively prevent the fluctuation of hormones in the body and these types of break outs.
  9. Treatment for Menstrual Migraines – The drop in estrogen which occurs during a normal menstrual cycle triggers migraine headaches for many women, creating serious interruptions to their lives every few weeks. By regulating hormonal fluctuations with birth control pills, many women find great relief from these types of migraines.
  10. Relieve Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – Birth control pills reduce the physical and emotional symptoms associated with these hormone-related concerns.
  11. Manage Endometriosis – The irregular growth of endometrial tissue causes extreme pain. Birth control pills help reduce tissue growth and symptoms.

Take Birth Control Pills as Prescribed for Consistent Hormone Regulation and Complete Benefits

Birth control pills affect the female body’s monthly cycle by regulating the hormones inside the body. To ensure consistent regulation, taking a consistent dose and sticking with your schedule (down to the exact time of day you take your pill) is absolutely necessary – especially when taking oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. To ensure the efficacy of birth control pills, always remember to take your pill at the same time each day. Also remember to make adjustments to your schedule if you travel outside of your time zone. If you happen to miss a dose, follow your medication’s instructions for what to do, use a backup contraceptive and talk with your doctor if you miss more than one dose in a month. If you wonder what is the best day to start Birth Control pills, then check it here.

6 Effective Ways to Remember the Birth Control Pill

Unless you have a fool-proof system or the memory of an elephant, you’ve most likely forgotten your birth control pill at some point during your prescription. We listed some effective ways to remember birth control pills.

Forgetting actually seems to be very common. According to a survey done by Popit in 2016, almost 80% of women had forgotten to take the birth control pill at least once within the last 12 months. That’s not surprising given that the pill needs to be taken each day. Combine this with a busy lifestyle and perfect compliance can be tricky or downright impossible to achieve.

Why is it then important to be diligent with birth control pills? There’s obviously the anxiety that not-remembering brings, but these two statistics really make you think:

Take the pill according to prescription and there’s a 0.3% chance of unintended pregnancy. Take it in a “typical fashion” (occasional forgetfulness) and the chances go up to 9%! That’s a 30x jump.

So that you would not remember and think less about what to do if you forget, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips to remember The Pill.

 

6 Effective Ways To Remember Birth Control Pills

1. Smartphone alarm

Set a daily alarm on your smartphone. You can also change the alarm tune to something that you connect with birth control – like a song about babies

Have two alarms just in case, the other being set some 15-20 minutes later. It’s just too easy to dismiss and forget the first one when you’re in the middle of doing something important.

2. Visual reminders

Keep the pills where you can see them daily, like the bedside table, kitchen counter, next to your hair brush etc.
Post-It notes to the rescue! Attach one of these with appropriate writing to your bathroom mirror or any place you’re sure to see during daily routines. Could also be your outside door.

One especially creative way we’ve seen has been to attach glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling above the bed to jog the memory every night.

3. Piggyback on an existing habit

Determine which are the daily habits you very rarely – or at all – break. A good example could be brushing the teeth: place the pill sheet next to your tooth brush.

4. Help from friends

Share an online reminder with your girlfriend or significant other. That way if you didn’t remember, they may remind you (and vice versa).

5. Cross it off

Mark the daily pill into your calendar (yes, the PAPER one) or cross off the date. Sometimes the act of writing makes you remember better.

6. Apps

Install one of the many reminder apps. The functionality is basically the same as with a smartphone alarm or calendar reminder. Just get ready for needless reminders when you’ve already popped your pill for the day.

What kinds of methods do you use to remember the pill? Let us know in the comments.

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References:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.674/abstract
https://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/2h9v47/i_was_having_trouble_taking_my_birth_control/

You Should Never Do These Things While On The Pill

While on the pill there are things you should avoid to maintain contraceptive efficiency. 5 most important things to avoid: Starting late...

Birth control pills have been around for quite some time and in fact, are being used by tens of millions who try to prevent themselves from getting pregnant. What are the birth control pill facts you should be aware of?

Birth control pills – Things to know

So you’re on the birth control pill but still bothered about getting pregnant. “Just how effective are these medications?” you ask. “What if I use it incorrectly and get pregnant anyway?” Unfortunately, it’s very possible. Following are what you need to avoid to get the most out of your birth control pill of choice.

Starting Late

The most common mistake women make using the pill is beginning their next cycle one or more days late. If you start your next cycle one day late, take two pills rapidly and then one pill per day after that.

In case you delay even more and start two days late, take two pills for each of the next two days and one pill per day after that. If you drop the ball and are three days or more late starting your next cycle, it’s apparently too late for this month. You should quickly switch to another form of temporary birth control and call your doctor for instructions.

Skipping A Day

Another common mistake women make while on birth control pills is forgetting and accidentally skipping a day. Imperfect use, or not taking your birth control when and how you’re supposed to, is the number one reason it fails.

If you miss one day sometime within your cycle, immediately take the pill you missed and continue with the rest of your cycle as planned. This may indicate you have to take more than one pill in a day.

If you miss two pills in a row anytime during your cycle, take two pills the day you remember and two the next, continuing with the rest of your cycle as normal. If this happens, however, you should use a backup form of birth control just to be on the safe side, because you are at risk.

Avoid Taking Certain Medications

Some drugs can make birth control pills less effective, which may result in pregnancy. A certain antibiotic lessens the efficiency of the hormonal pills and increases the possibility of you getting pregnant. The usage directions of the pill you’re using should include information on the drugs it interacts with, which reduce its efficiency.

Furthermore, when the doctor prescribes any drug treatment, you need to inform him/her that you’re using contraceptives.

Keep It Properly

Don’t keep your pill in the car, in your purse or the bathroom. This is not a great idea.

Birth control pills need to be stored in temperatures less than 25C/77F degrees, or they start to degrade. If you’re not sure, use a backup method, such as condoms, until you start a new, properly stored pack.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking and birth control pills don’t jive. Smoking can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke or blood clots caused by birth control pills, particularly if you are older than 35. By quitting smoking (or never starting), you lower your risks on the pill.

Smoking increases your risk of heart disease, blood clots, and stroke. The more you smoke and the older you are, the higher the risk.

Mistakes while using the pill are not unusual. The first thing you should do is switch to a temporary backup form of birth control or cease from sexual intercourse entirely until you’re caught up.

Of course, only your doctor can advise you on whether or not it’s safe for you to take multiple pills on any given day, as there may be adverse hormonal side effects.

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How to Maximize Birth Control Pill Effectiveness

Oral contraception pills are a popular birth control method for avoiding unplanned pregnancies. Combination and mini-pills have a cycle of dosage and need to be taken on prescribed schedule in order to maximize birth control pill effectiveness.

How effective are birth control pills?

When consumed in perfect fashion (no forgetting at all, taken according to prescription), birth control pills have a 0.3% failure rate. However, research shows that with typical use (occasional forgetting) the failure rate goes all the way up to 9%. This means an average of 9 women out of a 100 using the pill experience an unwanted pregnancy.

Proper use really is the key here. Pills should be taken diligently, but because of a busy lifestyle or other factors that may be very difficult.

Forgetting is actually quite common. Our own research has shown almost 80% of women forget the pill at least once per year.

How to Maximize Birth Control Pill Effectiveness?

Timing:

Timing is the most important factor to ensure the effectiveness of the pill. You must take the contraceptive pill at the same time every day. This doesn’t need to be “on the dot” if using the combination pill, but if you’re on the mini-pill you should keep a very close eye on your schedule.

Timing is the most important factor to ensure the effectiveness of the pill.

Take the pill either in the morning or before you go to sleep. You can also mark the days on your calendar or set an alarm on your smartphone. For more tips on how to remember, check our earlier blog post on this very topic.

An American Accreditation Healthcare Commission approved research by the University of Maryland also stated that the perfect time for contraceptives to be used is right after intercourse occurs.

Consumption and digestion of foods and drugs:

To have a proper effect the pill should be absorbed by the body entirely. This can, however, be impacted by vomiting or diarrhea, which can expel the pill out of the body before it has had the chance to be absorbed (usually takes 1-2 hrs).

To have a proper effect the pill should be absorbed by the body entirely.

Also if you are having other drugs on the same day as the pill, they may interfere with the oral contraceptive. Medications of this sort include for example a certain type of antibiotic, seizure medications and antifungal treatments. Here is a more thorough listing of things that can cause birth control pill failure.

It is also possible that laxative supplements such as psyllium may have an adverse effect on pill absorption. If you are using such supplements, ingest them a few hours after taking the pill to make sure and maximize birth control pill effectiveness.

Speaking of supplements, a much discussed topic has also been how some foods and herbs and the phytoestrogens they contain interfere with the pill. Phytoestrogens are dietary estrogens that mimic the estrogen in the body.

For example soybeans, nuts and oilseeds have relatively high concentrations, but more research is still needed to draw any solid conclusions whether eating these in moderation interact with pill efficiency.

What if I miss a pill?

With a busy schedule and a lot on your plate, it’s easy to not remember the pill. Or sometimes you just, well… forget. Here’s what to do in those cases to maximize birth control pill effectiveness:

If you have missed one pill or took your first pill from the pack late:

  • Take the pill even if it means taking two on the same day and then go on with the dosage cycle as you normally would.
  • Take the reminder pills (dummy pills) to stay on track with the cycle.

If you have missed more than one pill between packs:

  • In case the number of pills left is more than seven, finish the pack and take the inactive pills accordingly before you start a fresh pack.
  • In case the number of pills left is less than seven, skip the inactive pills and start a new pack.
  • If you are about to have sex, use an additional contraceptive method such as a condom.

When you have missed a mini-pill:

  • If you’re more than 3 hours late, have the pill immediately. Take only one pill even if you have missed more than one pill.
  • The next pill must be taken as scheduled (even if it means taking two on the same day)
  • Use condoms for the next 48 hours or do not have unprotected sex if you have missed a pill.
  • If you have unprotected sex within the 48 hours, you may have to use emergency contraceptives.

It is important to note that a medical professional must be consulted with before using birth control pills and any issues must be reported immediately to ensure health and safety.

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References:

http://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-pills
http://kinseyconfidential.org/safe-pregnant-maximizing-effectiveness-birth-control-pill/
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/miss-progestogen-only-pill.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception-guide/pages/miss-combined-pill.aspx


Birth Control Pills And Sex Drive. Do Pills Lower Libido?

There has been a lot of speculation about the effects of birth control on women’s libido. However, scientists have come to discover that the elements that drive a woman’s desire to have sex are not compatible with scientific methods. The research into the relationship between birth control pills and sex drive has continuously produced different results.

The science on birth control pills and sex drive

An analysis of the research studies conducted on this topic shows that most women reported no link between birth control pills and their sex drive. However, there are various ways in which the contraceptives can alter your bodily functions which can cause you to lose interest in sex.

Hormonal abnormalities

Many scientists consider testosterone to be a sex drive hormone. Estrogen, which is common in many birth control pills, has been linked to a reduction in testosterone levels in the body. This is because estrogen contributes to the increase in sex hormone-binding globulin. It traps some of the testosterone in the body.

In a study appearing in the Journal of Sexual Medicine scientists found that the level of sex hormone-binding globulin in women taking birth control pills was four times higher than in women who had never used hormonal contraceptives.

Another factor that might lead to lower testosterone levels is the lack of ovulation. Most oral contraceptives work by releasing hormones into the body that mimic pregnancy. In return, this helps to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation. However, some women experience a rise in the testosterone levels mid-cycle. The increase in testosterone causes some women to experience a spike in their sexual desire.

However, since ovulation does not occur when taking birth control pills, there is no spike in testosterone. Therefore, a person might miss this rise in sexual appetite once they get on the pill.

 

Birth control pills can affect lubrication

One of the side effects of low-dose birth control is that it can make it harder for a woman to get wet. Although this is not a sign of low sex drive, it does affect some women’s ability to get turned on.

Challenges in research

It is really hard to pin down what low sex drive means to different people. For some, it might mean that they are not that into it. Others might be repulsed by the thought of having sex. This is one of the reasons why studies keep giving different results on the connection between birth control pills and sex drive.

What to do if your pill is affecting your libido

If you feel that there is a link between your birth control pills and sex drive, then you should switch to another pill or method. Read on for information on both.

Switch to another pill

The beauty of oral contraceptives is that they come in different varieties. If your birth control is not working for you, you can switch to another pill with the help of your physician.

Pills containing drospirenone are known to be anti-testosterone. If your pills contain it, you can switch to a pill that has levonorgestrel which is considered to be pro-testosterone.

Switch to another method

If pills just aren’t working for you, you can opt for an alternative birth control method. An IUD is a good option since it does not prevent ovulation. The copper IUD may even be better since it is not hormonal.

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What Is The Most Common Birth Control Pill Side Effect?

Birth control pill users often worry about possible side effects. What is the most common side effect? And what are the most common worries?

The oral contraceptive pill is a highly effective method of birth control when taken at the same time every day. When taken perfectly (no occasional forgetfulness), only 0.3% of women experience an unintended pregnancy. However, like any medication, it too may come with side effects. We recently did two polls where we asked about the most common birth control pill side effect.

Usually side effects subside during time but still, they worry people. In our polls, we wanted to dive into which ones worried most and which ones had been experienced.

The Most Common Birth Control Pill Side Effect

Almost half (45%) of the users worry about possible weight gain during pill use. If it’s of any relief, clinical studies have found no consistent association between the use of birth control pills and weight fluctuations. Usually, the weight change happens due to other reasons or is temporary.

most common birth control pill side effect_worries

Pretty much in line with this fact is that in our other survey we noticed only 7% of users experiencing weight gain. Most common side effect experienced was actually nausea (21%). If going back to the image above, only 8% of users were worried about experiencing it. It’s good to know that these symptoms usually subside after a short time. Taking the pill with food or at bedtime can also help lower the likelihood of nausea.

most common birth control pill side effect_experienced

(Note that for the other survey it was possible to give multiple answers, so votes do not equal 61.)

Birth Control Pill and Mood Changes

Then how about mood changes? Beforehand only 10% of people were worried about experiencing mood changes. 20% of users reported experiencing these symptoms.

This side effect has been studied a lot. For example, a 2015 study of 90 women published in Human Mapping found that use of the birth control pills was associated with smaller cortical thickness measurements in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex. Now that’s a mouthful…

What does it mean? These areas of the brain are linked with reward response and evaluating incoming stimuli, and it means that the pill could be messing with how you feel about things.

No need to sound the panic alarm though. Authors mention further research needs to be conducted to confirm whether or not there is a connection between cortical thinning in these areas of the brain, mood changes, and birth control pill use. In any case, anyone experiencing mood changes during pill use should contact their medical provider.

When Should You Contact a Doctor?

It is important that anyone who experiences any of the following side effects while taking the pill contacts their medical provider or visits an emergency room immediately, as they may signify a serious condition.

Birth control pill side effects that should be investigated are:

  • A: Abdominal/stomach pain
  • C: Chest pain (as well as shortness of breath)
  • H: Headaches that are severe
  • E: Eye problems such as blurred vision or loss of vision
  • S: Swelling or aching in the legs and thighs (also redness, swelling or pain in the calf or thighs).

These symptoms can be remembered using the acronym ACHES.

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References:

  1. Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, Health matters fact sheet, accessed 20 August 2015.
  2. Brown University, Birth control pills (BCPs), accessed 27 February 2015.
  3. Oral contraceptive pill use is associated with localized decreases in cortical thickness, Nicole Petersen et al., Human Brain Mapping, doi: 10.1002/hbm.22797, published online 2 April 2015, abstract.