Oral contraceptive pills overview
There are two types of oral contraceptive pills:
- combined contraceptive pills
- progestin contraceptive pills (‘mini pill’).
Combined oral contraceptive pills
The combination oral contraceptive pill contains two hormones, estrogen and progestin. The combination pill is the most common oral contraceptive pill taken by women. It is available as a 21 or 28 day pack. The combination pill is effective against pregnancy when taken correctly.
Positive side effects include:
- shorter and lighter periods (and usually less painful)
- improvement of acne
- lower risk of ovarian or uterine cancer
- reduce severity and frequency of period-induced migranes
- improve bleeding and pain associated with endometriosis and fibroids
Negative consequences include:
- nausea, breast tenderness or weight gain
- slight increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots although this is a minimal risk in teens
- must be taken everyday at the same time until all pills are taken. Many teens assume that just because they are not having sex, it is not necessary for them to take the pill. A failure to take the oral contraceptive pills correctly may result in a pregnancy
- taking oral contraceptive pills will not prevent STDs and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Condoms should still be worn by the male partner as they are the best protection against developing STDs.
The pills must be taken at the same time every day. A couple of hours late could result in ovulation.
If you are a heavy smoker, or obese, or have a family history of heart disease or blood clots, then you may be one of the group of teen girls or women who should not be taking the combination contraceptive pill.
How effective are the oral combination contraceptive pills?
The effectiveness rate of the oral contraceptive pills is around 99%. This means that out of every 100 women who take the pills correctly, only 1 will become pregnant unintentionally. However, up to 8% of women become pregnant unintentionally while on the pill because of their failure to take the pill properly.
Progestin only oral contraceptive pills
Progestin only pills are usually taken by those who are unable to take the combination oral contraceptive pills. For example, nursing mothers and teens who are at risk of blood clots, heart disease and so on.
Progestin only pills are not as effective as the combination oral contraceptive pills and your doctor or medical health professional will need to make a clinical decision as to the type of pill you should take.