Things You Need to Know About the Pill
You may be surprised to know the percentage of American women who use birth control — only 62 percent. But you’re probably not surprised by the most popular form of that birth control — the pill. Over 10.5 million U.S. women are on the pill.
But that doesn’t mean they know much about it. Since we’re all about knowledge at the Women’s Health Medical Group, here are some things you probably don’t know about that little white pill you take (hopefully) every day.
Different birth control pill brands for different women
Every brand of birth control pill is equally effective at preventing pregnancy, but they differ in their make-up and how each is suited for different women. You may have to do a little trial and error, but it’s important for you to help us figure out which brand works best for you. At the Women’s Health Medical Group, we’ll often prescribe the pill that seems to suit your situation the best, but the final say needs to be from you. There are combination pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin. There are progestin-only pills for women who can’t take estrogen. There are different strengths within brands. If you think you’re experiencing side effects from the pill you’re on, we need to know about it.
The pill probably isn’t making you put on weight
In its early days, the available pill offerings had higher doses of hormones that caused many women to gain weight. Most modern pills use lower doses, and numerous studies have found no link between combination (estrogen/progestin) pills and weight gain.
Sometimes other pills don’t play well with your “pill”
When our doctors at Women’s Health Medical Group are setting you up with your birth control pill, we ask what other medications you’re on before we settle on your prescription. Some women think this is invasive, but there’s a reason for it: some drugs don’t mix well with your hormonal birth control. Some examples are certain antibiotics, anti-fungal medications, antidepressants, even some herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort. They can all diminish the efficacy of birth control pills that contain estrogen.
You can be on the pill for as long as you want
It used to be that some doctors told their patients on the pill to “take a break from the pill” now and then. But studies have not shown any benefits to this, and it increases your chances of an unwanted pregnancy. It was also thought that being on the pill a long time would impact your chances of getting pregnant. Also not true.
Once you go off, you can get pregnant right away
If you’re going to try and become pregnant, the thinking was that you had a higher possibility of a miscarriage if you became pregnant immediately after going off the pill. This has proven to be not true; the hormones in birth control pills don’t linger in your system. You don’t have to plan to wean yourself off or use other methods of birth control for a certain period of time before trying to get pregnant after being on the pill.
Be consistent or beware
Women who use contraception correctly and consistently account for just five percent of unwanted pregnancies. In contrast, 19 percent of women who use birth control inconsistently account for 43 percent of all unintended pregnancies. Here’s a stat: every year fewer than 1 in 100 women will become pregnant if they take the pill every day, but 9 in 100 will become pregnant if they don’t always take the pill every day. Be consistent and you won’t get pregnant.
If you have questions about pregnancy, the pill, or other birth control, we're all ears. Call the Women’s Health Medical Group at 817-346-5336.