Oral contraceptive pill

What you really must know!

  • The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is a very effective method of birth control. OCPs are approximately 92% effective in preventing pregnancy and when used perfectly (that is, at the same time, every day, without missing a pill), it is 99.7% effective.
  • It includes a combination of two female hormones, estrogen and progestin. It works mainly by preventing the release of an egg (called ovulation) during the menstrual cycle. It also makes the vaginal mucus thicker which prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg and thins the uterus lining to prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg.
  • It is a reversible method of contraception. On discontinuing use, it is possible to become pregnant immediately.
  • There are side effects of OCP use like spotting between periods, mild nausea or dizziness, headaches or migraines, breast enlargement or tenderness and weight-gain. These routine effects are usually felt during the first few months of use but are resolved with time or can be managed effectively.
  • OCPs have gone through several advancements over the years, which are referred to as different generations. The newer generation OCPs or advanced OCPs have relatively fewer side effects and provide health benefits beyond contraception.

Advanced OCPs

How are they better?

  • Lesser frequency of nausea and headache associated with use of OCPs
  • Lower rate of menstrual irregularities, resulting in lighter and more predictable periods
  • Reduced menstrual blood loss
  • Reduced pre-existing acne and hirsutism (excessive hair-growth on the face, chest or back)
  • Positive effect on mood
  • Lowered cardiovascular risk associated with taking OCPs for women with hypertension