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Everything you never knew about the pill

Posted on: September 20, 2021

The Pill, easily the only tablet known by such a generic name, and one that we all know is used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. This little tablet is safe and suitable for nearly all women1, but how much do we really know about The Pill? Read on for facts and information that you probably never knew about The Pill.

What is The Pill?

The Pill, as it is widely known, is a combined oral contraceptive (COC)1 and works primarily by preventing the release of eggs from a woman’s ovaries. One pill is taken every day for as long as she wishes1 to prevent pregnancy, and, when taken correctly is up to 99.9% effective2. Birth control pills are only available with a doctor’s prescription so make sure you visit your doctor to be assessed and prescribed the right pill for you.

How does The Pill work?

Hormones in the woman’s body control ovulation2 and The Pill contains low doses of 2 hormones, a progestin and an estrogen, similar to the natural hormones produced by a woman’s body1. These hormones work to slow the body’s natural hormones linked to her menstrual cycle to prevent pregnancy2. Three interesting changes happen within a woman’s body when taking The Pill to prevent pregnancy; stopping ovulation, thickening of the cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to pass and by changing the lining of the womb so that a fertilized egg can’t implant.2

How soon does The Pill work?

When taken as directed, The Pill is usually effective within taking the first 7 active pills within the pack3. This does depend on which contraceptive pill you use, so always best to read the pack insert for exact directions and speak to your doctor should you have any questions. You may need to use an additional barrier method, such as a condom, during these first few days. It is best to take the pills at the same time every day to make it easier to remember.2 A tip would be to put it next to your toothbrush so that it can become part of your morning or evening routine.

Old Wives Tales & Myths Busted

•    Hormones from taking The Pill don’t build up in a woman’s body so you don’t ever need to take a break from The Pill.1
•    The Pill does not make women infertile after they stop taking it.1
•    The Pill doesn’t cause birth defects or multiple births.1
•    A woman’s sexual behaviour doesn’t change when taking The Pill.1
•    The Pill dissolves in your stomach each day and does not collect in the stomach.1
•    Accidently taking The Pill during pregnancy won’t disrupt the pregnancy.1

Besides contraception, are there other benefits to taking The Pill?

The short answer to this is yes, and many women use The Pill for other benefits beyond contraception, such as:
•    Reducing the flow of heavy periods, which cause anaemia.4
•    Regulating heavy, infrequent, irregular or painful periods.4
•    Reduces the risk of certain cancers.4
•    Reducing hormonal acne and PMS (premenstrual symptoms).4
•    Regulating the menstrual cycle.4

Now armed with all this interesting information about The Pill, it is best to speak to your doctor to make sure that you are being prescribed with the right contraceptive for you.

1: World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research (WHO/RHR) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Knowledge for Health Project. Family Planning:  A Global Handbook for Providers (2018 update). Baltimore and Geneva: CCP and  WHO, 2018: 1-25p.
2: WebMD [internet] WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on August 05, 2018 Downloaded 24 March 2020
3. Planned Parenthood - How long does it take for the pill to become effective? (Accessed: 1 June 2021).
4. Planned Parenthood – The Birth Control Pill A History. (Accessed: 1 June 2021).


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