A woman gets pregnant when her egg (released from her ovary through ovulation) is fertilized by a man’s sperm. The fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the womb (uterus), receives nourishment, and develops into a baby. Hormones in the woman’s body control the release of the egg (ovulation) and help prepare the body to accept the fertilized egg so it can grow and develop into a baby.
Are you aware of how birth control pills work in your body?
Birth control pills interrupt the natural process of conception by releasing hormones into the body that prevent pregnancy. There are two types of birth control pills – combination pills and mini-pills, but both work the same way. Birth control pills may contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin. The pill prevents pregnancy in the following ways: 1) by stopping the release of the egg from the ovary (stopping ovulation), 2) by causing the cervical mucus to thicken (making it harder for the sperm to reach the egg), and 3) by making changes in the lining of the womb so that it is difficult for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.
Although we know how birth control pills prevent pregnancy – yes, you can still get pregnant while taking the pill, and taking the pill does not protect you from the risk of STD’s. Recent studies suggest that even if taken correctly, oral contraceptives are only 95% effective. The effectiveness of birth control pills is dependent on the user. For maximum effectiveness, the birth control pill should be taken daily at the same time. Missing a dose, taking the pill later than normal, experiencing vomiting after taking the pill, or even taking medications such as antibiotics can be factors that increase the risk of pregnancy due to inconsistent hormone levels. Your health care provider should be made aware if you are having any of these issues, and alternative birth control methods should be discussed. The pill may cause side-effects such as mood changes, sore/swollen breasts, weight gain, nausea, bleeding/spotting between periods, or more serious side effects such as headaches, chest pain, leg or thigh swelling, vision problems, or abdominal pain. It is recommended that you notify your doctor if any of these side effects are experienced, or seek help at the emergency room/urgent care center if you are unable to contact your provider.
The birth control pill may prevent pregnancy but it does not protect you from contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) that can occur from having sex with an infected partner. Studies suggest that 19 million new cases of STD’s are diagnosed yearly in people under age 25. Some of these STD’s are curable and some are not. Many people do not know they are infected until they are tested. Sex with a condom only provides 85% effectiveness for preventing pregnancy and only reduces the risk of contracting an STD. To completely eliminate your risk of pregnancy or STD’s then you should consider practicing abstinence. Saving yourself for your future spouse is a 100% guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy before marriage and is also a guaranteed way to avoid STD’s. Waiting to have sex until you are in a faithful, lifelong relationship (such as marriage) with an uninfected partner is the only way to avoid the risk of unplanned pregnancy or STD’s. If you have already had sex, you can talk to your doctor about STD testing and return to an abstinent lifestyle until you are in a lifelong monogamous relationship.