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.
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.
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.
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.
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.