UNDERSTANDING “THE PILL,” Michael Silverstein, MD (Digital)
While oral contraceptives have been around for many years, a number of economic, technological, and social obstacles had to be overcome before it would become available to patients.
Present day, oral contraceptives are widely used and accepted as one of the most effective methods of birth control when used properly. Many patients think of their oral contraception as a necessity for maintaining their reproductive health, therefore making it important for patients to understand the different forms and options that are available to them.
What is Hormonal Contraception?
Hormonal contraception refers to the type of birth control that works within the endocrine system. The most common types of hormonal contraceptives contain estrogen and progesterone.
These estrogen and progesterone contraceptives work to prevent pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. The progesterone-only contraceptives cause thickening of the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
Emergency Hormonal Contraceptives
When other methods fail, and a woman is not on a regular birth control regimen, emergency contraceptives are a useful way to prevent pregnancy after an occurrence of unprotected sex. Emergency contraceptives are comprised of progesterone, with a higher one-time dose.
Emergency contraceptives are used to prevent pregnancy after intercourse by preventing the implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterus. Emergency contraceptive pills should be taken as soon after unprotected intercourse as possible, ideally within 72 hours. Taking emergency contraceptive pills within this window gives you the greatest chance of them working effectively.
If you are on an oral contraceptive or are interested in going on the pill, talk to your doctor about what options are best for you. Having an open dialogue with your doctor about your reproductive health is the best way to stay healthy and informed of your options.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!