birth control pill is surrounded by misinformation. Get the
facts on common concerns and questions about taking the pill.
If you take the birth control pill (oral contraceptive), youíre
probably happy with its convenience and reliability. Still,
you may have questions about how birth control pills could
affect your health, the benefits and risks of birth control
pills, and newer options available.
I use birth control pills to delay or stop my period?
can. Birth control pills were once only packaged as 21 days of
active hormone pills and seven days of placebo pills. While
taking placebo pills, menstrual period-like bleeding occurs.
Today women have many more options ó from regimens with 24
days of active pills and four days of placebo pills to
regimens that are all active pills.
extended-cycle pill regimens have active hormone pills every
day for three months, followed by a week of placebo or
low-dose estrogen pills. You experience menstrual bleeding
during that week. Newer extended-cycle regimens involve taking
active pills continuously for one year and can stop all
or extended-cycle regimens have several potential benefits.
They prevent hormone changes responsible for bleeding,
cramping, headaches and other period-related discomforts. It
can be convenient to skip a period during important events or
trips. For women who experience iron deficiency due to heavy
menstrual bleeding, using continuous regimens can reduce
bleeding and there is less chance of developing iron
bleeding and spotting often occur during the first few months
on this type of regimen. It usually stops with time, but it
continues in some women long after using the pills.
need special pills or can I use ordinary birth control pills
to prevent having a period?
are birth control pill regimens designed to prevent bleeding
for three months at a time or for as long as a year. But itís
possible to prevent your period with continuous use of any
birth control pill. This means skipping the placebo pills and
starting right away on a new pack. Continuous use of your
birth control pills works best if youíre taking a monophasic
pill ó with the same hormone dose in the three weeks of
ó If I
plan to have a baby, how soon after stopping the birth control
pill can I conceive?
women ovulate again about two weeks after stopping the pill.
As soon as you ovulate again, you can get pregnant. If this
happens during your first cycle off the pill, you may not have
a period at all. Check a pregnancy test if youíve had
unprotected intercourse and your period hasnít returned.
there an advantage to waiting a few months after stopping the
pill before trying to conceive?
were once concerned that if you conceived immediately after
stopping the pill, you had a higher risk of miscarriage.
However, these concerns have proved to be largely unfounded.
The hormones in birth control pills donít remain in your
women start periods again a few weeks after they stop using
the pill. However, if your periods were infrequent before you
started taking the pill, they will likely be that way again
after you stop the pill. Some women find that it takes a
couple of months before they return to regular ovulation
cycles. After stopping the pill, if youíre not ready to
conceive, then you may want to consider using a backup form of
happens if I stop taking the birth control pill and my period
doesnít come back?
donít have a period for several months, you may have whatís
known as post-pill amenorrhea. The pill prevents your body
from making hormones involved in ovulation and menstruation.
When you stop taking the pill, it can take some time for your
body to return to normal production of these hormones.
period typically resumes within three months after you stop
taking the pill. But some women, especially those who took the
pill to regulate their menstrual cycles, may not have a period
for several months.
donít have a period within three months, take a pregnancy
test to make sure youíre not pregnant and then see your
a pregnancy test be accurate if Iím taking the birth control
get accurate results from a pregnancy test while youíre on
the pill. Pregnancy tests work by measuring a specific
pregnancy-related hormone ó human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
ó in your blood or urine. The active ingredients in birth
control pills donít affect how a pregnancy test measures the
level of HCG in your system.
happens if I take birth control pills while pregnant?
worry if you kept taking your birth control pill because you
didnít know you were pregnant. Despite years of this
accident happening, thereís very little evidence that
exposure to the hormones in birth control pills causes birth
defects. Once you learn that youíre pregnant, stop taking
the birth control pill.
I use several birth control pills at once for emergency
possible to use standard estrogen-progestin birth control
pills for emergency contraception, but check with your doctor
for the proper dose and timing of the pills. Certain types of
pills are specifically designed to keep you from becoming
pregnant if youíve had unprotected vaginal intercourse.
These medications are sometimes referred to as the
"morning-after pill." Levonorgestrel pills (Take
Action, Next Choice One Dose, and levonorgestrel .75) are
available over-the-counter for women age 17 years and older.
Younger women need a prescription for these medications.
One-Step ó a single-dose regimen ó is available
over-the-counter for women of any age and should be used
within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. Plan B ó a
two-dose regimen ó is available over-the-counter for women
age 18 and older; those age 17 and younger need a
prescription. These emergency contraceptives are available at
drugstores, as well as health clinics and Planned Parenthood.
acetate (ella) is another type of pill approved for emergency
contraception. Itís a nonhormonal medication that prevents
the effects of the bodyís natural hormone progesterone. Itís
available only by prescription. This medication is taken as a
single dose for up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse.