Oral contraceptive pills, commonly referred to as ‘OCPs’ are one of the most widely used methods of contraception. In Australia, two types of contraceptive pills are common, one being the “pill” which has both oestrogen and progesterone type hormones and the “mini pill” which has progesterone type hormones only. They are both effective if used in a proper way.
The pill, if taken on a regular basis without missing a dose, has an effectiveness of 99 percent in preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, if a dose is missed, the effectiveness goes to 90 percent or below.
What interferes with functioning of contraceptive pill?
The pill might not work effectively:
– If taken later than 24 hours
– If vomited out
– If the person has diarrhoea
– If you are taking medications that interfere with its absorption
How contraceptive pills are used:
Normal usage includes swallowing a pill a day. Most come in packs of 28 in which 21 are hormonal doses and remaining 7 are either iron tablets or sugar pills (taken on days of menses). You can skip the sugar pills but these are usually added so that a person makes a habit of taking them regularly. There are multiple brands available that can be used so always consult with your doctor to decide which brand is best for you.
How the pill works:
The pill works by inhibiting ovulation. It also thickens the mucus in the cervix, this prevents the normal mobility of sperm and inhibits its entrance to the uterus. When you start an oral contraceptive, it usually takes up to two weeks to build its effectiveness.
Benefits of contraceptive pills:
– Can lighten periods
– Improve acne
– Reduce chance of ovarian and uterine cancer
– Reduce symptoms of endometriosis
– Help control symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome
Side effects of oral contraceptive pills:
The pill can have some side effects including:
– Mood changes
– Skin changes
– Tender breasts
Often, these side effects settle with time. Keep in mind that contraceptive pills have not consistently been shown to cause weight gain which is a common misconception.
Contraindications to use:
Oral contraceptive pills are not be used in following cases:
– History of breast cancer
– History of deep vein thrombosis
– Age greater than 35 years and smoker
– Heart of liver disease
– History of headache/migraines
– Difficulty remembering tablets on time.
In case you ever miss a pill, take it as soon as you remember and continue the previous routine as usual, also, use condoms for the next week. You can stop using the pill any time you want and fertility usually returns quickly in the absence of other issues.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 1300 464 464.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.