FAQ About the Birth Control Pill

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Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the Birth Control Pill.

How long does it take before I am protected against pregnancy?
Check with your doctor or pharmacist for precise instructions. However, generally speaking among those taking the Pill for the first time and who are starting on the first Sunday after their period begins, it is imperative that you use another, back-up method of birth control for the first seven days on the Pill; a method such as condoms. Using a Day 1 start- meaning you start taking it on the first day of your period, the pregnancy protection begins when you take the first Pill.

If I miss a period does it mean I'm pregnant?
On completing a cycle of pills, regular menstruation may some times not occur. If you took the pills regularly and still miss a period, the makers of the Pill recommend you continue to take the pills for the next cycle but to inform your doctor or health care professional that you missed a period. If you missed a period after not taking the pills as instructed, it's possible you are pregnant. Missing two periods also means you may be pregnant. In either case, inform your health care professional immediately.

Am I supposed to take the Pills every day at the same time?
The proper way to take the Pill is simply to take one every day at the same time. Doing so helps to make it something you remember to do every day and are therefore unlikely to forget to do. When you forget to take a pull, you can experience side effects like spotting or bleeding.

So is spotting or bleeding ever normal while on the Pill?
Irregular spotting or bleeding between periods is not uncommon during the first few months on the Pill because a woman's body has to adjust to the hormones. It can also occur at other times according to the manufacturer: "Irregular bleeding may vary from slight staining between menstrual periods to breakthrough bleeding which is a flow much like a regular period. Irregular bleeding occurs most often during the first few months of oral contraceptive use, but may also occur after you have been taking the pill for some time. Such bleeding may be temporary and usually does not indicate any serious problems. It is important to continue taking your pills on schedule. If the bleeding occurs in more than one cycle or lasts for more than a few days, talk to your healthcare professional. If after the first 3 months, you experience irregular bleeding that lasts for more than a few days, talk to your healthcare professional."

What are the most common side effects of the Pill?
-- Irregular spotting or vaginal bleeding. Call your doctor or health care professional if the bleeding happens in more than one cycle or it lasts for more than a few days.
-- Fluid retention, which causes swelling at the ankles or in the fingers. This can raise your blood pressure and therefore you should inform your health care professional.
-- Contact lens issues. Experiencing a change in your vision with contact lenses or you can't wear them anymore, call your health care professional.
-- Spotty darkening of the skin, including the face. This side effect can continue after stopping the Pill.
-- Nausea and/or vomiting
-- Appetite changes
-- Headaches or dizziness
-- Depression or nervousness
-- Allergic reaction
-- Vaginal infection
-- Some hair loss

In addition to birth control, does taking the Pill offer other benefits?
Along with having a more regular cycle, women tend to experience less severe menstrual cramps on the pill. Additionally, there is some evidence that the pill confers some protection against reproductive cancers, such as ovarian and uterine cancer, and other health issues are believed to occur with less frequency, including acute pelvic inflammatory disease.

Does taking the Pill mean my partner(s) need not wear condoms?
When taking as instructed, the Pill confers extremely reliable protection against pregnancy. It confers no protection whatsoever against any sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis B and syphilis. Condom use can help to protect you from acquiring any of these serious infections. The Pill can not.


 
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