Contraceptive pill: what you need to know about this method of contraception
Legalized in France on December 19, 1967 after a long fight, the pill is one of the strong symbols of the emancipation of women and access to contraception for all. 50 years later, it remains contraception most used by the French. The pill is a contraception that continue hormones similar to those naturally produced by the body: estrogen and / or progesterone. The pill, under the action of hormones, will create an artificial cycle that will replace the natural cycle of women. Ovulation is put to sleep, the cervical mucus thickens to block the passage of sperm and a thinning of the endometrium will make difficult the implantation of the fertilized egg.
The different types of pills and their effectiveness
There is not one contraceptive pill, but several that will each address different women depending on their age, medical history and lifestyle. When used perfectly, the pill is 99.7% effective. Its effectiveness can nevertheless be reduced by several factors: forgetfulness, certain undesirable effects, especially diarrhea, interaction with drugs. Its efficiency then drops to 91.2%.
- Combined pill, oestro-progestative which combines estrogen and progestins: it is the most commonly prescribed pill for women with no specific contraindications. However, it is strongly discouraged for women suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, severe migraines, with a history of breast cancer or liver disease. It is also not recommended for women over 35 and women who are breastfeeding.
- The microprogestative pill which contains only a progestin. Although it is now sometimes prescribed as a first-line treatment, it has been used only for women for whom the combination pill was contraindicated.
Contraceptive pill: how to take it?
The pill should be taken daily, sometimes at a fixed time depending on the type of pill, for 21 days with 7 days off. For pills with 28 tablets, the tablets should be taken for 28 days and then continued directly to the next pack without interruption. It was customary to say that you had to take the first pill on the first day of menstruation, but we know today that the first pill can be taken at any time in the cycle. Be careful though, it is only fully effective after 7 days.
Side effects of the pill
Side effects vary from woman to woman. Progestin-only pills usually cause few side effects. However, in some women there is weight gain, spotting (blood loss between the "rules"), acne, migraines. In contrast the combined pills can cause more serious side effects. In particular, there is a real thromboembolic risk with the occurrence of phlebitis, pulmonary embolism or stroke. Side effects that are however increased in women with certain risk factors (smoking, overweight, hypertension, history of thrombosis).
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