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Birth Control Hormonal Methods (cont.)

What are the side effects of birth control pills?

Side effects related to birth control usage include

  • nausea,
  • breast tenderness,
  • breakthrough bleeding,
  • absence of menstrual flow,
  • headaches,
  • depression,
  • anxiety, and
  • diminished sexual desire.
  • Birth control pills do not consistently provide protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Taking the pills daily and consistently (the same time every day) is important. If the birth control pill is stopped, it may take several months for ovulatory menstrual cycles to resume. If menstrual periods have not resumed within six months of stopping oral contraceptives her health-care professional should be contacted for evaluation.

What if I miss taking one of my birth control pills?

If a woman misses 1 or 2 pills, she should take 1 tablet as soon as she remembers. She then takes 1 tablet twice daily until each of the missed pills has been accounted for. Women who have missed more than 2 consecutive pills should be advised to use a backup method of birth control and finish her pack of pills until the onset of her next menses. The pills work primarily by preventing ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary).

What are the types and brands of birth control pills available in the US?

Over 60 different combinations of birth control pills are available in the United States. Many of the combinations of these pills have 21 hormonally active pills followed by seven pills containing no hormones. A woman begins taking a pill on the first day of her period or the first Sunday after her period has begun. By taking a pill a day, a woman can usually take pills consistently throughout her cycle.

There are a variety of types of birth control pills. Three of these include monophasic, biphasic, and diphasic pills.

Monophasic pills: These have a constant dose of both estrogen and progestin in each of the hormonally active pills.

Phasic pills (biphasic and triphasic): In these combination pills, the dosage of one or both hormones changes so as to mimic a normal menstrual cycle.

  • Effectiveness of birth control pills: Pregnancy rates range from 0.1% with perfect use to 5% with typical use.
  • Advantages of birth control pills: Birth control pills are used to treat irregular menstrual periods. Women can manipulate the cycle to avoid a period during certain events, such as vacations or weekends by extending the number of days of hormonally active pills or by skipping the inert pill week. Birth control pills prevent certain conditions, such as benign breast disease, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and functional ovarian cyst formation. Functional cysts are prevented by the suppression of stimulation of the ovaries. Ectopic pregnancies cannot occur as ovulation does not occur. Birth control pills have been known to prevent certain ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2016
Medical Author:

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hormonal Methods of Birth Control :

Birth Control Hormomal Methods - Experience

What kind of hormonal birth control method have you or your partner used? Was it effective?

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control - Patch

Please share your experience with the birth control patch. Have you had any side effects? Is the patch comfortable to wear?

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control - Injections

Please share your experience with using injections to prevent pregnancy.


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