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What is it?
The contraceptive pill (also known as “the pill”) is a daily pill containing hormones that alter the functioning of the body to prevent pregnancy.
Hormones are chemicals that control the functioning of body organs. In this case, the pill hormones control the ovaries and uterus.
How it works
Most birth control pills are “combination pills” containing a combination of estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg during the menstrual cycle). If you do not ovulate, women can not become pregnant because there is no egg to fertilize.
Another effect of the pill is the thickening of the mucus surrounding the cervix, making it hard for sperm to enter the uterus and reach any egg that may have been released. In some cases, the hormones in the pill can also affect the uterine lining, making it difficult for the egg from attaching to their walls.
Most combination pills come in presentation for 21 days or 28 days. You take a hormone pill every day at about the same time for 21 days. According to the presentation, stop taking the pill for seven days (in the presentation for 21 days) or taking a pill without hormones for seven days (in the presentation for 28 days).
Women menstruate when they stop taking hormone pills. Some women prefer the presentation for 28 days because it helps them get in the habit of taking a pill every day.
There is also a type of combination pill that reduces the frequency of menstruation, is due to take a hormone pill for 12 weeks and then a placebo for seven days. This reduces the frequency of menstruation to once every three months instead of once a month.
Another type of pill that can alter the frequency of menstruation is the pill with low dose of progesterone, also called mini-pill. This type of birth control pill differs from the rest because it has only one type of hormone (progesterone) rather than a combination of estrogen and progesterone.
It works by altering the mucus lining and cervix and, in some cases, it also affects ovulation. The mini pill can be slightly less effective in preventing pregnancy than the combination pills.
The mini pill is taken every day without interruption. Women who take the mini-pill may not menstruating or have irregular menstrual period. To work, the mini-pill is taken at the same time every day, without missing any doses.
All contraceptive pills are more effective if taken every day at the same time, whether you plan to have sex or not. This is even more important for progesterone-only pills.
When you first start taking the pill during the first seven days, women should use an additional method of contraception such as condoms to prevent pregnancy. After seven days, the pill may be used alone to prevent pregnancy. You can still use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
If women stop taking the pill or forget to take them, the contraceptive method will not work and must find an alternative, such as condoms. Another option is to stop having sex for a while. Do not take the pills from a friend or relative.
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