Contraceptive pills

There are several types of contraceptive pill, but all of them work by mimicking the hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) that women produce naturally during the course of the menstrual cycle. Some of the pills have oestrogen and progestogen (a synthetic form of progesterone) and others are progestogen-only pills.

 The oestrogen and progestogen or combined pills work mainly be stopping egg release (ovulation) from the ovaries each month. The combined pill also thickens the cervical mucus at the entrance to the womb so that it is harder for sperm to swim through. The lining of the womb (uterus) also becomes thinner, reducing the possibility that a fertilized egg can sink in and implant. The progestogen-only pill acts in a broadly similar way on the mucus and womb lining, but usually does not prevent egg release.

There is an assortment of types of combined pill, and it may be that you will need to try more than one before finding the one that is most suitable for you. Some release a similar amount of hormone/s everyday, while others vary in their content, so it is particularly important to take them in the right sequence. You should seek advice on which pill you might take.

 Below is a table of advantages and disadvantages of contraceptive pills as a method of contraception:

Advantages Disadvantages
Very reliable and effective if taken properly Puts the responsibility on the woman
Can lessen some menstrual problems and may lessen the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts Prescription needed. Do not give protection against sexually transmitted disease
Progestogen-only pill is thought to be safer for older women and those that smoke, though timing and consistency in taking the pill is important. May give rise to short and long term side effects in some women. May not be suitable in certain circumstances, for example if there is a history of heart disease in the family. Some medicines can make the pill less effective: always check with your GP.

Comments on this article

seun 27 December, 2009

hi,i have just started taking contraceptives am not yet 30 but i do not want an unplanned pregnancy,my doctor recommends it butmy boyfriend does not want me to take it but am just trying to be careful,do you think taking the contraceptive will delay pregnancy when am ready?

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