How do birth control pills work?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jun 17, 2015

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  • Birth control pills are hormonal tablets.
  • Most pills have two hormones.
  • Pills are supposed to be taken daily.
  • Effective only if taken according to schedule.

Birth control pills are small hormonal tablets that can be consumed everyday as a contraceptive measure. Most pills have two hormones –oestrogen and progesterone that prevent pregnancy. How Do Birth Control Pills Work is a question asked by a number of women who are looking for safe and effective contraceptive measures. These pills are supposed to be taken daily at the same time. If taken according to the schedule prescribed by your doctor, they prove to be very effective.

Birth control pill effectiveness

How do birth control pills work?

The combination pill: This pill contains both the hormones –oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones suppress the pituitary gland, whichin turn, stops the development and subsequent release of the egg from the ovary. The progesterone has its own role. It prevents the sperm from reaching the egg and also changes the lining of the uterus. This change in the lining makes it difficult for the egg to implant itself in the uterus. The combined pill is supposed to be more effective than the mini pill. However, if oestrogen doesn’t suit you, you will have to go in for the mini pill or the ‘progesterone only’ pill. These pills are available either in 21-day or 28-day packs. If you take the 21-day pack, you can discontinue the use after 21 days for seven days and then resume. The 28-day pack has 21 effective pills and 7 placebos.

Birth control pill effectiveness

The ‘Progesterone only’ pill: Also called the ‘mini pill’,this pill only has the progesterone hormone. It suppresses ovulation and also prevents the sperm from reaching the egg and hence, fertilization cannot take place. It confuses the uterus that the release of the egg from the ovary or ovulation has not occurred and hence, the uterus does not support fertilization. The mini pill also thickens the mucous around the cervix. This acts as a barrier and does not allow the sperm to reach the egg. The mini pill has to be taken daily, preferably at the same time every day.

If you are still confused about how do birth control pills work, it is better to consult a doctor and get full information. The birth control pills are 90-95% effective even if one misses a day or forgets to take them at the specified time. However, the efficacy is 99% if they are taken daily at the same time. Birth control pills also have other benefits such as a clearer skin, regular and lighter periods and decreased or no cramps during periods.

Image source: Getty Images

Read more on Contraception.

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