How Effective are Birth Control Pills?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 31, 2011

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Birth control pills can be effective if taken every day as prescribed. There are two types of contraception pills used for birth control. They are firstly, the combination of progestin and estrogen, and secondly, the progestin only pill. The only difference is that while the combination pill needs to be taken once daily at anytime throughout the day, the progestin only pill need to be taken at exactly the same time everyday for it to be really effective.

These pills contain hormones that prevent the ovaries of a woman from releasing eggs. The process of ovulation is obstructed. Pregnancy takes place only when the woman’s egg comes together with a sperm. Another preventive effect of taking these pills is the thinning of the inner lining of a woman’s cervical mucus. Such hormones also make the lining of uterus thin. This can also prevent a fertilised egg from getting attached to the uterus.

Maintaining the correct level of hormone in the body for contraception is the function of birth control pills. Less than 1 percent of women are likely to get pregnant every year if they take the pills as prescribed. Even if the pills are not taken as directed, there is every chance that the woman will get away with pregnancy. Only around 9% women are likely to get pregnant if they do not take the pills as directed.

The effectiveness of all birth control pills is affected in case of overweight women. Advice of your health care provider is a must if you are overweight and want to take birth control pills. The pills may not be as effective for you. Other than the condition of being overweight, certain other factors also have a bearing on the effectiveness of birth control pills.


These include:

  • An antibiotic in particular called rifampin.
  • Some types of medications used for treatment of yeast infections and taken by mouth.
  • Some types of HIV medications.
  • Some types of anti-seizure medicines.
  • The medical condition of St. John’s Wort.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea can affect the pill’s working.


While the birth control pills have been found to be effective by and large, you don’t want to get complacent. It is always advisable to keep one of the backup methods of birth control handy. Condom, emergency contraceptives, diaphragm, sponge or female condom, one or more of these are needed until you are absolutely sure that your birth control pill is effective in preventing pregnancy.


Read more articles on Contraception.



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