Taking birth control pills is a good way to keep from getting pregnant. The birth control pill has hormones in it that control the ovaries and uterus (womb). Hormones are chemical substances that control how the body’s organs work. The hormones in the pill, estrogen and progestin, keep the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation). If no egg is released, even if sperm enters the womb, you do not get pregnant. The mucus around the cervix becomes thicker, making it harder for sperm to enter the womb.
Sometimes the lining of the womb is affected and a fertilized egg cannot attach to its wall. Birth control pills are a reversible form of contraception. This means if you stop taking the pills, you could get pregnant. To make the birth control pills work, you must take one at the same time every day (see Picture 1).
Picture 1: Take a pill at the same time every day along
Birth control pills take a while to start working. Just to be safe, you should use an extra form of birth control at least for the first month. Birth control pills will not keep you from getting a sexually transmitted infection or the virus that causes AIDS. Always use a condom and some form of spermicide (contraceptive foam, cream or jelly) whenever you have intimate (close) sexual contact.
It takes about 3 months for your body to adjust to the pills. During the first few months on the pill, you may feel some breast tenderness, nausea, upset stomach, mild headaches or slight weight gain. You may notice a small amount of "breakthrough bleeding" (spotting) between your periods as your body adjusts to the new hormone level in the pill. You can also have spotting if you change (by 2 hours or more) the time of day you take your pill. If these side effects concern you, call the clinic, but do not stop taking your pills. Most side effects go away as your body gets used to the birth control pills.
Call the Adolescent Health Center at (614) 722-2450 or your doctor at immediately if any of the following occurs:
Birth control pills are also used to treat menstrual cramps, and heavy bleeding or irregular cycles linked to PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Some other benefits are:
If you are not sure how to take your pills or if you have any other questions, be sure to call the Adolescent Health Center at (614) 722-2450.
Birth Control Pills (PDF)
HH-IV-3 10/77, Revised 2/15 Copyright 1977 Nationwide Children’s Hospital