The contraceptive pill is taken by millions of women throughout the world as a way to prevent pregnancy. However, it can also be taken to prevent painful or heavy periods, endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome. It is one of the most effective forms of contraception available in the world today and it over 99% effective. The contraceptive pill is free and can be obtained from your local sexual health clinic or your GP.
Who Can Take the Contraceptive Pill?
Although the contraceptive pill is the most common form of contraception in the world today, not everyone is eligible to take it. If you fall into one of the following categories your doctor will advise you on other alternatives:
• If you are pregnant.
• If you are over 35 and smoke.
• If you take certain medications – your GP can advise you on this.
• If you are severely overweight.
You are also not eligible to take the contraceptive pill if you have or have had one of the following conditions:
• Heart disease or high blood pressure.
• Breast cancer.
• Thrombosis or a blood clot.
• Liver disease.
If you do not fit into any of the above categories you will be eligible to take the contraceptive pill until you reach the menopause.
How to Take the Contraceptive Pill
Each brand of contraceptive pill is different and your doctor will advise you on how to take the specific brand that he prescribes. Your contraceptive pill should also come with an instruction leaflet which contains further information. Usually you will be advised to start taking your pill on the first day of your period you will then continue to take the pills for the next 21 or 28 days depending on the brand you are on before starting a new packet.
Some brands of contraceptive pill can be taken back to back – meaning that you will not have a period although this is not advised and only your doctor can advise you about the health risks that come with doing this. If you have just had a miscarriage, an abortion or a baby please speak to your doctor before starting to take the pill.
Benefits Associated with the Contraceptive Pill
Aside from being a highly effective form of contraception, the contraceptive pill also has a number of other benefits including:
• It makes periods regular, lighter and less painful.
• It reduces the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome.
• It does not interrupt sex.
• It can sometimes reduce acne.
• It can help to prevent against conditions such as ovarian cysts, fibroids and non-cancerous breast disease.
• It can help to prevent against certain cancers including womb cancer, colon cancer and cancer of the ovaries.
Side Effects of the Contraceptive Pill
On the whole the contraceptive pill is a very safe form of contraception, however as with everything there are some side effects that you should be aware of. These include but are not limited to:
• Mood changes.
• Nausea and headaches.
• Increased blood pressure.
• A change in your sex drive.
• Breast enlargement.
• Breast tenderness.
• Fluid retention.
If these do not subside within a few months of taking a specific brand of contraceptive pill your doctor should take you off it and prescribe you a contraceptive pill in a different brand.
The pill has been associated with both blood clots and cancer – most notably breast, cervical or liver. These instances are very rare however and many women believe that the benefits that come with taking the pill far outweigh the risks.