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Oral Contraceptive Pill (OC)

Effectiveness (Theoretical)
Effectiveness (Real World)

"The Pill" is a prescription tablet taken once a day in sequence, until every pill in the package is used up. There are two types of birth control pills; the combination pill and the minipill. The combination pill contains both an estrogen and a progestin, whereas the minipill contains a progestin only.

Oral contraceptives contain hormones similar to the body's own natural hormones that stops the release of a mature egg.

When used exactly as directed, the Pill has an effectiveness rate greater than 99%. However, typical effectiveness is closer to 97% during the first year of use. Oral contraceptives are easy to take, regulate menstruation and may decrease the severity of PMS. When the Pill is discontinued, most women can expect to become pregnant within six months. Oral contraceptives may also reduce Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and decrease the risk of ectopic pregnancy in women using this method.

The most common side-effects associated with oral contraceptives are nausea, cramps, bloating, change in menstrual cycle and weight change. Women have to remember to take a pill every day, regardless of sexual activity. In some cases, the Pill needs to be taken at exactly the same time every day. The Pill is not recommended for women over 35 years old who smoke, or women who cannot take estrogen. The pill may not be suitable for women who suffer from depression or migraines, or have high blood pressure or diabetes. Doctors may not prescribe the Pill to women who are pregnant, have unusual vaginal bleeding or have ever had blood clotting problems, heart disease, liver disease, cancer of the breast or uterus. Women who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should use another form of birth control because vomiting and diarrhea can disrupt the effectiveness of the Pill. Many medications, including antibiotics, can also reduce the effectiveness of the Pill. Oral contraceptives do not protect against sexually-transmitted diseases.

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