The Pill Dissected
08 Nov 2016

The Pill Dissected

A couple of weeks ago I discussed different methods of birth control that are available to women. Other than the condom, the most popular method of birth control is the contraceptive pill. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 16% of US women aged 15-44 use the pill. Because it is so popular, I decided to expand a bit on how the pill works and what are its potential side effects.

The birth control pill contains both estrogen and progestin which work to prevent ovulation. When used properly, the pill is about 99.7% effective in preventing pregnancy, this depends on the woman taking her pill everyday and not skipping pills which decreases the effectiveness. In reality, when considering how women actually use the pill, its effectiveness is around 92%. So if you do choose this method, please remember to take it on time! One good trick is to put an alarm on your phone that will ring everyday and the same hour. If you do forget one pill, take it as soon as you remember (this may mean taking two pills in one day if you only remember the next day- this is ok, you can take two in one day). If you forget to take your pill for two days in a row then take two on the day you remember and two on the next and then continue to take your pill normally (one a day). If you forget to take your pill for more than two days in a row then you may need to call your doctor to figure out what to do next as this can vary. Remember that if you miss a pill, you should use another method of birth control (your best bet is a condom) for the rest of your cycle (so until you start a new pack).

Both control side effects: just like with any kind of product or medication that you put into your body, the pill has some side effects. For the most part these are not serious, and listing these is in no way to scare you from taking the pill, it is simply to help you make an informed decision.

Common side effects include:

– Nausea
– Weight gain
– Changes in your period: lighter period or spotting
– Mood fluctuations
– Breast soreness, increase in breast size
– Loss or reduction of sex drive
– Vaginal dryness

Often these symptoms can be fixed by changing brands of pill. Different brands will have different doses of hormones and your body can react better or worse to a certain combination. This is why its important to discuss symptoms with your doctor and to not be afraid of trying different pills until you find one that works for you. Also, be patient; sometimes it takes a while for your body to adapt. The best advice is to wait for about three months, if symptoms are persistent after this, talk to your doctor about trying another brand.

Some more serious side effects are:

– Abdominal pain
– Chest pain
– Headaches
– Blurry vision
– Aching in legs and things and swelling

If you experience any of these problems, please see your doctor. It could be the sign of something serious. These side effects are however very rare.

Now don’t be freaked out, there are many positive effects of taking the pill. Some women have easier periods, less acne and feel generally better. It all depends on your body and the kind of pill you are taking. Many women swear by the pill and are incredibly happy using it. What matters is being informed so you can ask your doctor the right questions if you decide to go on the pill. Remember that the pill may not be right for you if you are a smoker, over the age of 35, or have a personal or family history of certain disease such as breast cancer and blood clots. I hope this information about the most commonly used birth control has been helpful!  If you have questions or comments, please drop me a line.


Delphine DiTecco

copyright (c) 2016 – – Purple Empower, Inc.

Photo Credit: The Huffington Post.

Delphine DiTecco

Sex Enthusiast, Writer, Researcher, Performer, Makeup and Product Lover Masters Student in Women and Gender Studies Honours B.A. in Psychology Podcast Host and Creator of Broke and Horny

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