The birth control pill is a safe, simple, and convenient way to prevent pregnancy. It also has other benefits like reducing acne, making your periods lighter and more regular, and easing menstrual cramps.
The pill is an effective way to prevent pregnancy
If you follow the instructions and use the birth control pill correctly, it gives you great protection against pregnancy.
All you have to do is stick to your daily pill schedule, and make sure you start your new packs on time — that’s it. But if you miss or forget pills, it won’t work as well.
You can use condoms along with your birth control pills to get extra protection from pregnancy. Bonus: condoms also help protect against STDs.
The pill has health benefits
Side effects aren’t always a bad thing, and birth control pills aren’t just for birth control. The pill has many perks besides pregnancy prevention.
Both combination and progestin-only pills reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods, and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy.
The combination pill can also help prevent or lessen:
- • Acne
- • Bone thinning
- • Cysts in your breasts and ovaries
- • Endometrial and ovarian cancers
- • Serious infections in your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus
- • Iron deficiency (anemia)
- • PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
The pill can make your periods better
Lots of people like the pill because it makes their periods regular and easy to predict. The hormones in the pill can also reduce menstrual cramps and make your period lighter.
You can also use the pill to safely skip your period, which is totally convenient for people who want a special occasion to be period-free, or just don’t want a visit from Aunt Flo every month.
You can get pregnant right away when you stop taking the pill
Many people on the pill want to have kids when the time is right. One of the great things about the birth control pill is you can get pregnant right after you stop taking it.
After you stop taking the pill, it can take a few months for your periods to return to the cycle you had before you started using it. Once in a while, people have irregular periods or no periods at all for a few before you started taking the pill.
Even if your regular period doesn’t come back right away, it’s still possible to get pregnant when you’re not taking the pill. So if you’re going off the pill but don’t want to get pregnant, start using another birth control method right away.
The pill is convenient
Taking the birth control pill is easy but remembering to take it every day can be hard. Luckily, pill packs are small — about the size of a cell phone — so you can carry your pills with you wherever you go.
The pill is birth control you don’t have to think about during sex. If you take the pill correctly, you’re protected from pregnancy all day, every day. Many people say the pill makes their sex lives better because they don’t have to interrupt sex or worry about pregnancy.
You may need a prescription from a doctor to get birth control pills. Depending on where you live, you can even get birth control pills online.
What are the disadvantages of the pill?
Remembering to take a pill every day can be hard. And some people get side effects that bother them (but they usually go away in a few months).
1. You have to take the pill every day.
It’s really important to take your birth control pill every day, or you might not be protected from pregnancy. Using a birth control reminder app, setting an alarm, or keeping your pill pack next to things you use every day (like your toothbrush or phone charger) can help you remember to take your pills.
If you have a really busy life and think you might not remember your pill every day, check out other birth control methods like IUDs or the implant that are super low-maintenance and almost impossible to mess up.
2. There can be negative side effects.
Like all medications, birth control pills can have side effects. But most usually go away after 2 or 3 months. Many people use the pill with no problems at all.
The most common side effects are spotting or bleeding between periods (this is more common with progestin-only pills), sore breasts, nausea, or headaches. But these usually go away after 2 or 3 months, and they don’t happen to everyone who takes the pill.
Birth control shouldn’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. Luckily, there are many different types of birth control, so you’ve got options. If you keep having side effects that bother you after using the pill for 3 months, talk with your doctor about trying another brand of pill or another birth control method. But don’t stop taking the pill without starting a new method, or you won’t be protected from pregnancy.
3. There can be some rare but serious risks.
Serious problems from taking the birth control pill are very rare. People using birth control that has estrogen, like combination pills, have a slightly higher chance of having a few rare but dangerous problems than people who don’t use birth control with hormones.
For more information about side effects and risks, talk with your doctor or read the package insert that came with your pills.
Side effects of stopping birth control pills
The side effects of stopping birth control pills are different for each person, just like the side effects of using them.
The hormones in the pill leave your body in a few days. That means any side-effects you experienced while using it will go away pretty quickly. Yes, this includes the positive ones like clearer skin and lighter periods. However, it can take a few weeks to several months for your regular menstrual cycle to return.
Here are some side-effects you might experience:
- • PMS symptoms come back
- • Mood changes, including a change in sex drive
- • Changes in vaginal discharge
- • Change in your periods
- • Skin changes, like more acne if you had that before taking the pill
Your ability to get pregnant returns as soon as you stop the pill, so if you don’t want to get pregnant right away, keep using your birth control (or use a different method like condoms) until you can get to a doctor or nurse. They can help you make a plan for switching to a new method.
Your periods might be irregular for a while. If you don’t get your period within 3 months after stopping birth control pills, check in with your doctor to rule out any problems.
Download the full issue of the Mar-Apr 2023 Healthy Options News Digest here.