The contraceptive pill is one of the most common methods of contraception used by women – used by approximately 100 million women worldwide. Whether you’re already on the pill, or if you’re considering switching to it as your new method of birth control, there are the facts about birth control pills that every women should keep in mind.
It’s available for free on the NHS
In order to get your prescription from a pill, you just need to arrange a short appointment with your GP, practice nurse or at your local sexual health clinic. They’ll run through some general health questions with you to ensure that you are healthy and that it is safe for you to begin taking the pill.
You will receive a normal-looking prescription which you can take to any pharmacy that is convenient for you, but you won’t be charged.
There are lots of different types of contraceptive pills, so if you don’t find your fit the first time, there are other options
There are currently approximately 40 different kinds of the pill available in the UK. Each can affect your hormone balances differently, meaning that some may be better for you than others. If you experience some negative side effects when you start to take the pill, it may be time to take a trip back to the doctors to find the pill that will work the best for you.
It can be used to treat certain conditions, as well as just preventing pregnancy
The pill isn’t just used as a form of birth control. One of the most common reasons for taking the pill, other than to prevent pregnancy, is to manage your periods and make them lighter, regular and less painful if you suffer from severe cramps.
According to the NHS, the pill can also be taken to treat and reduce acne, reduce symptoms of PMS, and reduce your risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.
The pill isn’t effective immediately
Depending on what day of your cycle you start taking the pill, it may not be effective straight away. This is one of the biggest facts about birth control pills, and debatably one of the most important ones
If you are more than 5 days into your cycle, then you will need to use alternate methods of birth control as well as taking the pill for the following 7 days. This is why your GP or nurse will likely recommend you start taking the pill on the first day of your cycle, as this way, you will be protected from pregnancy straight away without the need to use anything else.
There are some health risks involved
Unfortunately, the pill does carry some risks which you should know about if you decide to take the pill as your preferred choice of contraception.
One of the most scary facts about birth control pillsis that it can cause blood clots in a small number of women, though you should be assessed before you start taking the pill to determine if you are at risk of this before you start taking the pill.
Some other, less serious but more common side effects can include nausea, headaches, tenderness in your boobs, and slight spotting between your periods.
You can use the pill to control and even skip your periods
The 7 day break that you have in your pill packet is designed to allow you to keep having your periods. Depending on which type of pill you take, you can take two pill packs back-to-back, which will delay your period. The NHS recommends taking no more than two packs in this way, as you may experience some side effects such as bloating, stomach pains, and unexpected bleeding.
This is particularly useful if you are planning a holiday or other event and you would like to avoid getting your period at that particular time. This is definitely one of the biggest facts about birth control pills to know.
You need to take it correctly to ensure it remains effective
For the pill to be totally effective as a method of birth control, it should be taken every day for 21 days at approximately the same time. Some pills will also include 7 days of placebo pills, which will help you to keep taking them every day, instead of having a 7-day pill break. When taken effectively, the NHS states that the pill is over 99% effective, making it a safe choice in preventing pregnancy. This is one of the facts about birth control pills that is sometimes misconstrued!
If you’re into bullet journaling, consider tracking that you take the pill every day to get in the habit of it being your daily routine. Alternatively, you could install an app on your phone that will remind you to take your pill at a specific time each day, such as MyPill, which simulates an actual pill pack on your phone screen so you can keep track.
There are lots of myths surrounding the pill
A common myth is that the birth control pill will make you gain weight. However, there is currently no evidence to support this myth. There is some speculation that the change in hormonal balance may affect your appetite, but there is no proven link between taking the pill and weight gain.
If you have any concerns about “facts” you’ve heard about the pill, ask your GP or nurse in your appointment and they will be happy to explain what’s fact and what’s fiction.