What Should I Consider Before Taking Birth Control Pills?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Birth control pills use targeted doses of female hormones to prevent women from becoming pregnant. “The Pill” has been marketed in the United States since the 1960s, and they are available in many other parts of the world as well. As with any type of contraception, there are some things to think about before deciding to take birth control pills. Women who are interested in taking birth control pills should arrange an appointment with a gynecologist to discuss their options and suitability for birth control pills.

Women should consult with a gynecologist before taking birth control pills.
Women should consult with a gynecologist before taking birth control pills.

One of the first considerations is that birth controls do not protect against any sexually transmitted infections (STIs). For some sexually active women, such as those in committed long term partnerships, this is not a major issue. Others, however, should be aware that they should use condoms in addition to birth control pills, to ensure that they are not afflicted with STIs. Condoms are freely available from many women's health centers such as Planned Parenthood.

Weight gain may result from taking birth control pills.
Weight gain may result from taking birth control pills.

Another issue when taking birth control pills is the daily regimen. Taking birth control pills is only effective when a pill is taken every day, preferably at the same time every day. Skipping pills or not taking them at the same time can cause birth control pills to be less reliable, which is not desired. If you are thinking about taking birth control pills, ask yourself if you can commit to taking a pill every day at the same time.

Birth control pills do not protect against STDs.
Birth control pills do not protect against STDs.

Since birth control pills contain hormones, they may also have an impact on your body. Taking birth control pills has been associated with weight gain, unstable moods, and other issues. Taking a lower dosage of hormonal birth control such as a progesterone-only mini-pill may help with this. Many gynecologists have a preferred brand which they can recommend to their patients, but be aware that you may need to change your pills if one type has too many side effects for comfort.

Birth control pills are daily female hormones that a woman takes to prevent pregnancy.
Birth control pills are daily female hormones that a woman takes to prevent pregnancy.

In addition to taking birth control pills, there are other contraceptive options, both hormonal and non-hormonal. A doctor can discuss these options with a patient, and learning about these options is usually encouraged so that women can make an informed choice about their sexual health. Before taking birth control pills, it is also advisable to get a full health examination, to make sure that the use of hormonal contraception is not contraindicated due to an underlying health condition.

A woman's gynecologist can provide advice on various contraceptive options in addition to birth control pills.
A woman's gynecologist can provide advice on various contraceptive options in addition to birth control pills.
To ensure protection against STIs, women should use condoms alongside their birth control pills if they are sexually active.
To ensure protection against STIs, women should use condoms alongside their birth control pills if they are sexually active.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon68619

I had visited my boy friend in early February and started taking oral contraceptive pills for 11 days. We had sex for 10 days continuously without any protection. After 11 days I stopped pills and sex and did not get my period yet. is it possible I became pregnant?

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