3. Suspects (I might forget)

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

pill reminders

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.

pill reminders

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 randomised 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 behavioural 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.

pill reminders

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.

pill reminders

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 

pill reminders

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?

Pill Reminders

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. )

The Rise of Men’s Birth Control Pill

It seems that the world of men is about to experience a drastic change since the news for the alternatives of condoms has been fluttering around the world. Initially, it was just rumors. Then the research was confirmed and now at last, the lab guys are finally closing in on a new solution which would not require men to sheath their swords with late condoms.

This new solution is in the form of a pill. Yes, the pill may ring the bells of a tablet for birth control for women, but this time, a pill is coming for the same purposes but only for men. The women will no longer have to worry about anything if they missed a pill or forgot to take it since there won’t be any need or cause for them to concern themselves over pregnancy.

While the pill is still in the process of making with the various regulations and rules of the Food and Drug Association panel (FDA), the Parsemus Foundation, which is a medical research organization, has been working on an alternative contraceptive for men and have found its solution in the form of the Vasalgel. Vasalgel is the men’s birth control injection and to top it off, none of the males will have to worry about their manly hormones since Vasalgel will be a non-hormonal male contraceptive.

Vasalgel is poised to be the very first male contraceptive approved by the FDA since the introduction of condoms. It is injected directly into the sperm tubes of the males and blocks only the sperms while allowing all other fluids to pass through it. Its effects can last up to 1 year, so males won’t have to worry about getting it injected over and over again whenever they want to have sex. It is not a pill, but it’s a start and Aaron Hamlin, the Executive director of the Male Contraception Initiative, has heralded the coming of the male pill as well which makes it almost a certainty that men’s birth control pill will be coming.

According to other sources all over the internet, the men’s birth control pill is expected to arrive from 2018 to 2020 but one thing is certain. Once the male pill has been introduced to the world, in family planning it will spell the end of the era for condoms. One must however remember that such a contraceptive method does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so condoms will still continue to exist.

Other formulas which have shown potential to take the form of male pill are H2-Gamendazole and JQ1 which work by keeping the sperms from reaching maturity and tricking the body into forgetting how to make sperms. The researchers just need to figure out a way to weed out their side effects, but they clearly show potential for taking the place of the men’s pill.

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You Should Never Do These Things While On The Pill

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 increase 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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Do Birth Control Pills Make You Fat?

There are many wonderful reasons for choosing the oral contraceptives as your birth control method, but it is important to remember that birth control pills are medication. So do birth control pills make you fat? Women who decide to use them may experience negative side effects.

These side effects may include nausea, headaches, decreased libido, and yes, even weight gain. Remember, not every woman who uses birth control pills suffers from these side effects. Even those who do, these problems are rarely severe.

Over time, most of these side effects will disappear or at least become less pronounced as the body adjusts to the increase of hormones.

Do Birth Control Pills Make You Fat?

Weight gain is one of the main reasons why many shy away from using oral contraceptives. Before starting many women want to know if birth control pills would bring on weight gain.

Most women do not gain any excessive weight from the pill at all.

There is not one answer for everyone. While indeed some women gain weight while on the pill, it is not necessarily a consequence of being on the pill. In fact, most women do not gain any excessive weight from the pill at all.

There are a few reasons why a minority of women may appear heavier and notice a larger number when they step on the scale. The largest amount of blame lies with a hormone known as estrogen.

Studies show that estrogen may both increase a person’s appetite and have the tendency to cause someone to retain water. However according to a large independent study from 2014 there is no sufficient evidence to suggest that the pill would cause major weight gain.

In the early days of oral contraceptives, birth control pills had much higher levels of estrogen than those which are present in today’s pills. Due to these larger amounts of estrogen in the older pills, many more women experienced negative side effects.

For many women weight gain is a normal occurrence that comes with age.

It is pure consequence why other women begin to wonder if birth control pills are causing weight gain.  It is natural for women to gain some weight during their older teen years into their young twenties and then again when they are in their mid-thirties and beyond.

These just so happen to be the time when many women use birth control pills. Therefore, it is quite natural to put the blame on birth control pills for this normal weight gain.

Do birth control pills make me fat? Highly unlikely, according to science.

What Can You Do If You Gain Weight While Using Oral Contraceptives?

If you are among the small percentage of women who continuously gain weight even after a few months of being on the pill, you should know that there is hope. Your first step is to make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns over gaining weight.

Your weight gain may just be a coincidence and have no link to your birth control at all. For weight gain due to birth control pills, a doctor may be able to help.

Not all birth control pill brands have the same impact on your body.

Not all brands of birth control pills use the same dosage level of estrogen. Your doctor may want to try a prescription with a lower estrogen level to determine if that corrects the problem. Alternatively, your  doctor may put you on a progestin-only pill.

These pills are sometimes known as POPs or minipills because they do not contain any estrogen at all. A recent study that analysed 22 earlier studies found little evidence that POPs would cause weight gain.

One thing to note with POPs is that getting the same contraceptive efficiency as with combination pills will require you to be extra careful with timing. Missing a pill here and there will increase your risk of unwanted pregnancy more than with combination pills.

After you change to a new pill, you should not expect any immediate changes, It generally takes up to three months before most women will notice a reduction in their weight.

As for any other medication, women should ask their doctors questions to understand all the possible side effects birth control pills may cause.

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How Soon Do Birth Control Pills Become Effective?

When women use birth control pills, they have many more choices and a lot more freedom than other methods of birth control. Most women who start using birth control pills want to enjoy these advantages as soon as possible, but how soon do birth control pills become effective?

How Soon Do Birth Control Pills Become Effective?

If you are among the millions of women in the US who are choosing to start to use birth control pills this year, you need to know ‘the pill’ is often not instantly effective. It can take a long time before your birth control pills are able to protect you against an unwanted pregnancy.

But precisely how much time depends on several factors. Some of these factors include the specific type of birth control pills you are taking and how far along you are in your menstrual cycle when you take the first pill. It is critical to understand how these factors can affect you.

Check also our earlier blog post on when should you start the pill.

How the Types of Pills and Your Menstrual Cycle Affects the Effectiveness of Birth Control Pills

There are two main types of birth control pills: combination pills and progestin-only pills. There are benefits and drawbacks for each of these two varieties. Your doctor tends to make the final decision about which type of pill is best for you. If you prefer one type of pill or have concerns, talk to your physician.

A combination pill  is the most common type of birth control. A combination pill contains both progestin and oestrogen hormones. Women who use this kind of birth control pill may need to wait up to 7 days before the pill can protect them against unwanted pregnancy.

During this waiting period, it is still possible for these women to engage in intercourse, but they should continue to use an alternative method of birth control such as a condom and spermicidal gel.

For a woman who thinks that 7 days is too long of a time to wait, there is good news.

There is a way for women to eliminate the waiting period completely. Women who take their first combination pill on the initial day of their periods are free to have sex with a far less chance of becoming pregnant from day one.

A progestin-only pill, most commonly known as the ‘minipill’ or POP, only contains the hormone progestin. One advantage of using the minipill is that it takes only 48 hours for progestin-only pills to become effective against pregnancy.

For the first two days after beginning the minipill, couples need to use an alternative method of birth control. It is important to note that with the minipill, women must take the pill at the same time each day to stay protected.

Missing a pill by as little as three hours means you have to take precautions.

Missing a pill by as little as three hours can mean having to use a backup method for 48 hours. Forgetting to take a pill for an entire day will mean 2 weeks of using an alternative birth control method.

This is only a guideline for how soon do birth control pills become effective and everyone is different. Listen to your doctor and always ask questions when you have any concerns about your health.

(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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7 Things To Cоnѕіdеr Before Going On Thе Pіll

Thеrе аrе many dіffеrеnt forms оf bіrth control that can hеlр prevent рrеgnаnсу. Both men, аnd wоmеn саn uѕе dіffеrеnt forms оf bіrth соntrоl tо рrеvеnt fertilization frоm hарреnіng. The bіrth соntrоl ріll has become mоrе аnd mоrе popular bесаuѕе оf how еffесtіvе it has been рrоvеn tо be. The pill оffеrѕ one of the hіghеѕt protection levels аgаіnѕt unwаntеd pregnancy. If you take it perfectly (don’t forget a single day and are on time), it is 99,7% efficient. There are however things that you should consider before starting birth control pills.

1. You Have Tо Take It On Tіmе

Birth соntrоl ріllѕ aren’t juѕt something you саn use whеnеvеr. Tіmіng mаttеrѕ.

Yоu have to take your ріll оn time еvеrу dау! If уоu tаkе thе ріll late, іt increases уоur сhаnсеѕ of gеttіng pregnant. Thе lаtеr you tаkе іt, thе lеѕѕ еffесtіvе іt іѕ. This is especially true for mini-pills. Check out our article on how to remember the pill each day.

2. It Dоеѕ Not Prоtесt Against STDs

I knоw a lot оf people who thіnk bіrth соntrоl pills are аlѕо STD-рrоtесtіоn ріllѕ, аnd thіѕ could nоt be mоrе false. Birth соntrоl pills dо nоt рrоtесt against any STD. Not оnе. And because thеу оffеr zеrо рrоtесtіоn аgаіnѕt STDѕ, you ѕtіll need to uѕе соndоmѕ if you or your partner haven’t been tested in a while.

3. Yоu Don’t Have To Bе Sеxuаllу Aсtіvе To Bе On Thе Pіll

Thеrе’ѕ thіѕ totally іgnоrаnt mіѕсоnсерtіоn thаt еvеrу lady оn thе ріll is ѕоmе rampant ѕеx frеаk. Obvіоuѕlу, that іѕ not truе. There are a mіllіоn rеаѕоnѕ for starting birth control pills bеѕіdеѕ bеіng sexually асtіvе. The pill can for example help with mood swings and help with depression (or also cause it, check out our article on the topic).

4. It Tаkеѕ Tіmе Tо Work

Unfоrtunаtеlу, when you are starting birth control pills, your bоdу doesn’t іmmеdіаtеlу become unаblе tо gеt рrеgnаnt. Bіrth соntrоl ріllѕ tаkе time tо wоrk. Prepare for 1-2 months. It’ѕ іmроrtаnt while уоu’rе wаіtіng for іt tо kick іn tо be extra careful іf уоu’rе ѕеxuаllу асtіvе. Also, іf you’re ѕwіtсhіng bеtwееn ріllѕ, thе ѕаmе соnсерt аррlіеѕ.

5. The Pіll May React Wіth Other Mеdісаtіоnѕ

If уоu tаkе оthеr mеdісаtіоnѕ оr gо on certain аntіbіоtісѕ, іt саn mаkе thе ріll less еffесtіvе. Make ѕurе you ѕhаrе the medications you’re оn wіth your doctor, nо mаttеr what thеу are.

If уоu tаkе medication rеgulаrlу, thеrе mіght bе a ріll thаt reacts better wіth уоur mеdісаtіоn than аnоthеr. Read more about 9 things that can make birth control pills fail.

6. Every Pill Hаѕ Side-Effесtѕ, But Every Pill Iѕ Dіffеrеnt

Evеrу ѕіnglе birth соntrоl ріll hаѕ side effects. Lеg pain and numbnеѕѕ, chest pain, ѕеvеrе hеаdасhеѕ, blurrеd vision аnd abdominal раіn аrе аll indications thаt уоu mау nееd tо rе-еvаluаtе your bіrth control pill.

Nоt еvеrу birth соntrоl pill wіll аgrее with еvеrу wоmаn. If one ріll wоrkеd for еvеrу wоmаn, that’s аll wе wоuld hаvе. But thаt’ѕ nоt hоw bіrth control wоrkѕ, аnd іt’ѕ uр to уоu аnd your dосtоr tо figure оut what does аnd does not work fоr you, before and after starting birth control pills.

7. Sоmе Hаvе Risks Greater Thаn Othеrѕ

Sоmе ріllѕ like Yaz, Yаѕmіn, аnd Ocella, have hіghеr rіѕkѕ оf blооd clots аnd other mоrе ѕеrіоuѕ ѕіdе еffесtѕ. This doesn’t mеаn that thеу don’t wоrk, but you need tо bе аwаrе of thе rіѕkѕ іf уоu decide tо tаkе a hіgh-rіѕk ріll.

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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 get 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 diarrhoea 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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5 Signs You’re On the Wrong Birth Control Pill

If you are taking the birth control pills because of PCOS, cramps, fibroids or as a contraceptive, it’s important to know you’re taking the right birth kind of control pill. We listed some symptoms that might indicate your current birth control pill is not the best one for you.

Frequent Headaches or Migraines

If you are experiencing regular headaches or worse migraines after starting to take your birth control pill, your sensitivity to estrogen might be higher than normal. The pill increases levels of estrogen in the body. Look for pills that do not contain hormones.

Lost Your Mojo

The birth control pill can lower your libido since it replaces hormones. The body is responsible for creating 50% of the testosterone when a natural ovulation occurs and testosterone actually plays a huge part in sex drive. The pill can prevent a person from ovulating, which in turn will result in zero production of testosterone hormones, necessary to keep the libido up and running. Testosterone is also responsible for increasing the blood flow to sexual organs – crucial for their sensitivity.

Low Energy

There is a proven connection between taking birth control pills and depletion of vitamin B. If you are not taking a vitamin B6 supplement, chances are that you might feel low on energy. Other symptoms can be moodiness, tiredness and nausea. If experiencing any of these symptoms look into supplementing your vitamin intake or switching the contraceptive method altogether.

If you are not taking a vitamin B6 supplement, chances are that you might feel low on energy.

Feeling Depressed

The birth control pill contains progesterone & estrogen and these can affect the brain. It is very important to find a well-balanced pill which will not put you in bouts of depression or low moods. Each pill has a different dose of these hormones so it might be a good idea to try a different pill or other birth control methods.

Not Being Yourself

If your mood and behavior have changed after taking the pill, you feel miserable and moody and most of all you don’t feel quite yourself, it might be best to look into other options. Your body knows best when something is not right and it may be that birth control pills are not the best contraceptive method for you.

Your body knows best when something is not right and it may be that birth control pills are not the best contraceptive method for you.

If you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to schedule a visit with your doctor to discuss options and clarify the root cause.

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How Birth Control Pills Work

The hormonal birth control known as “the pill” has gained its reputation firstly because it can simply be taken by the mouth. Secondly, when taken correctly, the birth control pill can be up to 99.7% effective, i.e. not resulting in pregnancy. Read further for a quick rundown on how birth control pills work.

Birds and the bees

Biology has taught us that a woman conceives when an egg released from her ovary is fertilized by a man’s sperm (one of the millions swimming toward the egg). This fertilized egg then attaches to the inside of the woman’s womb (uterus). Here, the egg gets nourishment and develops into a baby over the course of nine months. It is the hormones in the woman’s body that control the release of the egg from the ovary (ovulation).

How birth control pills work?

The pill and other hormonal contraceptives (the patch, the vaginal ring etc.) contain synthetic oestrogen and progestin hormones in minute amounts. The function of these hormones is to inhibit the woman’s body’s regular cyclic hormones and thus prevent the woman from getting pregnant.

Nonetheless, there is a combination of factors that can be attributed to preventing the process of conception. Generally, the hormonal contraceptive stops the body from releasing of the egg from the ovary (ovulating). Additionally, these contraceptives modify the cervical mucus so much so that it is difficult, nearly impossible (if you are lucky) for the sperm to make its way through the cervix and find itself an egg to fertilize. Moreover, hormonal contraceptives also avert the occurrence of pregnancy by altering the lining of the womb (where the baby should rest), so that the chances of the implantation of the fertilized egg are brought down significantly.

It must, however, be noted that the risk of pregnancy is MUCH less for women who take the pill properly. And properly means every day, at about the same time.

Also, it is better to not just and only rely on the pill. Using condoms (male) is strongly recommended to decrease the risk of STDs (and pregnancy, of course).

Pros and cons

Advantages of birth control pills:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Cheaper than other birth control methods
  3. Combination pills might even offer other benefits; easing menstrual cramps, reduced blood loss during menstruation, reduction in acne, even stronger bones! Using them is also known to reduce the risk of some cancers (those affecting reproductive organs).

There are also some side effects that come along:

  1. Weight gain
  2. Occasional nausea
  3. Mood swings (due to hormonal activity)
  4. Lighter blood flow during menstruation
  5. Sore breasts
  6. Spotting

The lesser common yet serious side effects that may be indicators of bigger problem like liver damage, gallbladder disease etc. are as follows:

  1. Chest pain (sign of stroke)
  2. Severe headaches (migraine)
  3. Stomach/abdominal pain
  4. Blurred Vision etc.

Nevertheless, birth control pills are the most widely used and safest of all methods – just as long as you remember to take them on time.

For this purpose it is best to rely on a routine or any of the reminders available on the market.

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What Is In The Birth Control Pill?

Birth control is something that a lot of people consider. It saves you the trouble of worrying about the consequences and allows you to live your life the way you want to live it. There are many different types of birth control methods available in the market but the most common and safest one for women is to take the birth control pills. Not only are these pills safe but they also help women in keeping their internal cycles regular too.

These birth control pills may be made of a combination of female hormones or may have only one hormone depending on their type. They are taken orally (ingested through the mouth) and the amount of dosage required depends on the type of pill being used. The characteristics of the two main types of birth control pills are described as follows:

  1. Combination Pills: The most common type of oral contraceptive. These types of pills are usually a combination of two female hormones: estrogen and progestin. They help prevent pregnancies in the following ways:
  • By thickening the mucus in your cervix
  • By suppressing the process of ovulation in your body
  • By thinning the lining of your uterus.

These are the pills that are more commonly used as compared to so-called mini-pills, which we will get to in a moment. Combination pills help improve your menstrual cycle as well as reduce the cramps associated with them. This in turn reduces the chances of anemia. They also help clear up skin acne which is an added benefit for them. The combo pill may also reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer. Have a look at some of the other side-effects here.

  1. Mini-pills: Mini-pills, which are sometimes called Progestin-Only Pills (POP), are made up of only one type of female hormone known as progestin. These pills help thicken your cervical mucus and cause thinning in the walls of your uterus. Sometimes these pills may also act as ovulation repressants but that is usually a rare case. This is normally advised when you have shown sensitivity to estrogen.

Just like the combination pill, also the mini-pill is effective if taken daily at the same time. It is safe to use in case you are at a risk of a heart disease or stroke or are a heavy smoker. It is also safe to use in the case of breast-feeding women. With mini-pills you have less flexibility with the timing (should not be late more than 3h), and if you forget or exceed the buffer time you should use a backup contraceptive such as a condom for at least the next 48h. If you’re on the mini-pill and find it difficult to take around the same times, have a look at our recommendations on how to jog your memory.

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