The female contraceptive pill is better known as the ‘birth control pill’ or better still, just ‘the pill’. It is the most popular form of female contraception that entails taking a small pill for 21 days in the month.
These pills contain synthetic equivalents of the female hormones progestin and estrogen. These hormones are normally produced by the ovaries.
An excess of these hormones suppresses the pituitary gland thereby stopping ovulation or the development and release of the egg. By so doing, the female on the pill is unable to conceive. For the other 7 days of a female cycle there are either no pills at all if it is a 21 day pack, or else the pills are placebos. During this period the woman menstruates.
Pills containing both progestin and estrogen are called ‘combination oral contraceptives’ whilst there are others that contain progestin only. The objective remains the same. Progestin changes the lining of the uterus and acts as an impediment preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. The combination pill is marginally more effective than the progestin only. The effectiveness of either pill depends on consistently taking them daily and at the same time each day. If this regimen is scrupulously followed the pill is highly effective. But should diarrhea or vomiting occur, or should the user be on some other medication that may impinge on the effectiveness of the pill, a back up contraceptive measure is recommended. The pill as a contraceptive should be taken only on the advice of a health care provider.
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