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What Are Birth Control Pills & How Do They Work?

What Are Birth Control Pills & How Do They Work?

Planning to get married? Hooking up with a lover? Trying out Tinder? 

The common element in all the above circumstances – sex!

Everything has a price to pay, and so does pleasure and gratification; the price being a baby.

For those planning parenthood – this is a needed consequence. For those who are yet to reach that particular stage in their lives – this can be devastating.

Appropriate birth control measures need to be undertaken to avoid pregnancy after sex. One of the measures taken by women is birth control pills.

Is Birth Control Pill Effective?

Birth control pills or oral contraceptives are medications ingested by mouth to prevent pregnancy. These contain two hormones estrogen and progesterone that need to be taken on a cyclical basis. Some pills may contain only progestin.

A second type is the emergency contraceptive pill, also known as I-Pill. This is mainly used by couples who do not have a regular birth control pill schedule and have not used any other birth control measure such as a condom or IUD implant. This pill needs to be taken within 72 hours of having sex and contains a high dose of a single hormone.

What Are Birth Control Pills & How Do They Work?

Birth control pills work by stopping ovulation i.e egg maturation and release is prevented. Secondly, they help thicken cervical mucus aka the fluid around the cervix that helps sperm travel to the uterus for fertilization. Thickening this mucus will prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Some may thin the endometrium as well. The endometrium is the uterus lining where an egg is implanted post-fertilization. If the lining is thinner, implantation may become more difficult.

Effectiveness of Birth Control Pills

If you take birth control pills as prescribed without missing out on even a single dose, they will be very effective in preventing pregnancy. For best efficacy, they need to be taken at the same time every day and the prescription needs to be followed strictly without any deviations.

However, some factors can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills such as:

  • Antibiotic Rifampin
  • Certain HIV medications
  • Certain antiseizure medications
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting

Consult your gynaecologist before choosing a birth control pill regimen to understand which type of birth control pill will be the best fit for you. If you have ingested the above-mentioned antibiotic and other medications or are having diarrhoea and vomiting, consult your gynaecologist immediately to understand the risk of pregnancy.

Additional Information

Your gynaecologist will inform you of certain side effects you may face on starting a birth control pill regime depending on the type of pill and your body’s reaction to that pill. These side-effects may be:

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Nausea
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Breast tenderness

While developing a blood clot from using any kind of birth control pill is low, it still exists. Some women face a higher risk of developing a blood clot from birth control pills. They are:

It is very critical to consult your gynaecologist before you embark on a birth control pill regime. Please do not rely on the internet or friends as each piece of information on the internet may be generic and each person will not have the same reaction to the pill as the other.

Price Of Birth Control Pills

Contraceptive pills are a key to the government’s family planning program. It offers several birth control pills from brands such as Mala-D, Mala-N, Ecroz, Khushi, Apsara and Saheli for free or at subsidized rates. 

Another unique scheme is the Antara scheme wherein all women between 18 and 45 years of age can receive contraceptive injections free of cost at all state-run primary health centres and hospitals once every three months. This injection is considered a safe and effective pregnancy preventive medication for three months.

If you wish to forgo government-aided assistance, there are many birth control pills available in the market. Combination drugs usually cost between INR 1500 to INR 4000 depending upon the brand you buy. Progestin-only drugs usually range between INR 900 and INR 3500.

The emergency contraceptive pill, I-Pill, costs around INR 110 per tablet.

There are many different methods of birth control available other than pills though pills are very effective. Some of these include using a condom, having an IUD implant, using a spermicide etc.

Please consult a gynaecologist to choose the best method possible for you.

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