Birth Control Pills: Is Pregnancy Still Possible?

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Surprising facts you didn’t know about birth control pills

  • The hormones present in the contraceptive pills not only help in prevention against pregnancy, but also aid in moderating various period symptoms like heavy bleeding, cramps, acne, and menstrual migraines
  • There are some antibiotics like rifampicin, griseofulvin, and many more that reduce the impact of birth control pills resulting in unwanted or surprising pregnancy when taken along
  • Oral contraceptive pills help prevent various health issues like ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, etc.
  • As per the Affordable Care Act, the women holding health insurance plans are provided with birth control pills free either free of cost, or at a low price from family planning clinics
  • There is no need to take a break from the oral contraceptive pills unless you are willing to enter the pregnancy phase, as there are no long-term health issues for the same
  • A general pack of birth control pills contains 21 pills, while there are 7 placebo pills. But if you want to skip your periods, you can skip the placebo pills and continue with the next pack on the 22nd day
  • The birth control pills are safe to use with no risk of having birth defects or harming the fetus during pregnancy
  • The birth control pills are also safe if taken accidentally during pregnancy
  • Some of the common health issues when on birth control pills include nausea, headaches and changes in bleeding patterns

Birth Control Pills: An Overview

Do you know, more than 6 million women get accidentally pregnant in the United States when on birth control pills!

No doubt, the birth control pills are 99% safe and effective to prevent unwanted pregnancies, there are still chances of conceiving if not taken perfectly. Birth control failure can occur if the birth control pills are missed in a row, you are on other medications that reduce the effectiveness of the pill, and vomiting. All these factors increase the chances of an unplanned pregnancy when sexually active. Accidentally missing a dose of the pill or not remembering the date to start with the new pack can also result in a surprising pregnancy.

Through this post, let’s have a look at the effectiveness of the birth control pills, and answer every possible answer related to birth control pills.

What are the reasons for birth control pills failure?

Reasons for Birth Control Pills Failure

Some particular behaviors and conditions boost the possibilities of having an unwanted pregnancy despite having birth control pills. One of the commonly heard reasons for failure is missing the birth control pill. Women many times fail to take the pill at a regular time which increases the risk of getting pregnant.

The birth control pills need to be taken regularly at a fixed time. Women using birth control pills need to be regular with the pills as they are designed for maintaining a constant hormone level in the body. When even a single dose is skipped, the levels of hormones are sure to drop down rapidly. Depending on where you are standing on your cycle, this can lead to ovulation which increases the chances of getting pregnant.

In case you have missed the dose, make sure to take it as soon as you remember and continue with the pattern to reduce the chances of getting pregnant along with a backup birth control method for the next week.

Another reason that leads to the failure of birth control pills is the uncontrolled consumption of alcohol. Under the influence of alcohol, women might forget to have their pills at the correct time. Again, even if the pill is taken at the right time, but vomited, the body fails to absorb the hormones, which drops down the levels of the hormones leading to ovulation or pregnancy.

Lastly, certain medications or supplements reduce the effectiveness of the birth control pills making it ineffective. Such medications include rifampin antibiotic, antifungal griseofulvin, herbal supplements, and even particular anti-seizure medicines. Many times, birth control pills also fail if the woman on the birth control pill is overweight or obese.

So, if you are going through any such conditions as mentioned above, it is advised to talk to your doctor regarding a backup method like switching the birth control pills or even using condoms.

What are the different types of birth control pills?

Coming to the different types of birth control pills, there are two types of pills like mini-pills and combined pills. Both the pill types need to be taken regularly as prescribed by the doctor, including the days when you are not having sex.

Let’s have a look at the different birth control pill types:

1. Mini-pills

Mini-pills include a single hormone pill, progestin. If you are suggested to have mini-pills, it is advisable to take all the 28 pills at the same time every day. Suppose you forget to take the pill by 3 hours, you need to go with a backup birth control method like a condom.

2. Combined pills

Combined pills come in a pack of progestin and estrogen hormonal pills. The pack usually includes 21 to 24 hormonal pills including 4 to 7 days of reminder pills. Women generally have their periods during the reminder pills phase. For prevention from unwanted pregnancy, you can continue with the combined pills regularly every month. Another option is to have the hormone pills continuously to stop or delay the periods.

How should you take the birth control pill?

As mentioned above, the birth control pills are packed with 21- or 28-days pills. Every day, one hormone pill is to be consumed for 21 days at the same time. If you are taking the 21-day pill pack, you will have to take a single pill every day for 21 days after which you will not have any hormone pills for the next 7 days. However, if you are taking the 28 days pack, you will consume 21 hormone pills every day at the same time, and after that, you will consume 7 no hormone pills for the next 7 days to complete the pack. In both cases, as soon as the 21 days hormonal pills are consumed, the woman would have her period in the next 7 days. Many women consider taking the 28 days pill pack to maintain a habit of consuming pills every day without fail.

Apart from the 21- and 28-days birth control pill pack, there is another option of a combination pill which reduces the frequency of menses through a hormonal pill for 12 weeks followed with inactive pills for the next 7 days. This also reduces the number of menses to one for 3 months instead of one period every month.

Some women also prefer taking the mini-pill that makes changes in the number of monthly periods through a progesterone pill with a low-dose. This type of birth control pill is much different compared to others available in the market. Such mini-pills contain one hormone pill and one progesterone pill instead of a combined pill of progesterone and estrogen. The mini-pill effectively works by making changes in the cervical mucus as well as the uterus lining which affects the ovulation. Lastly, it should be noted that the mini-pills are less effective compared to the combination of pills in terms of preventing pregnancy.

Be it a 21-day pill pack, 28-day pill pack, or mini-pill pack, any birth control pill would work effectively only if it is taken on a regular time every day without fail no matter whether the woman is active in terms of sex or not, especially when progesterone pills are taken. It should also be marked that along with the birth control pill, additional preventive measures should be used along for preventing pregnancy like condoms for the first 7 days for complete fortification.

When any pill is missed, forgotten, or missed, the chances of becoming pregnant increases. And to reduce the chances, the woman will need a backup for avoiding pregnancy or avoid sex. It is also advisable not to take any pill from the pack of your friend or relative.

Meanwhile you may like to take a look at the this guide on diet and food for pregnancy.

What are other options for birth control except for birth control pills?

No doubt, 9 out of 10 couples prefer using the birth control pills, there are still other options to consider in case you are willing to take a break from combination pills or looking for an emergency protection medium.

Here are the other options you can think of for birth control.

1. Rings and Patches

Rings and patches are much similar to birth control pills. You can either use a patch by placing it on the upper arm, back, buttocks, or even the belly, or use a ring by inserting it inside the vagina. The rings and patches are 99% effective in terms of birth control when used perfectly. However, if you don’t use them properly, they are only 91% effective.

Some conditions in which the rings and patches might fail include:

  • when you are on certain medications, supplements, or drugs that make the rings and patches less effective
  • when you fail to use a fresh ring or patch every month or the patch or ring moves out of the vagina for 2 or more days when you need to wear it properly
  • when you are obese or overweight having weight around 200 pounds or more

If you are going with a patch or ring, make sure it doesn’t fall out. If this happens, it needs to be replaced or reinserted within 48 hours for effective protection. If the time exceeds for more than 2 days, make sure a backup method is used for the following 7 days.

Meanwhile, are you suffering from shingles while you are pregnant? Here is a guide on how to treat Shingles in Pregnancy.

2. Birth Control Shot

The birth control shots are taken every 3 months in the form of a birth control method. The shots contain hormone progestin that deactivates the process of ovulation. When used perfectly, the birth control shots are 99.8% effective. When you fail to take the injection at the right time, it is important to take a follow-up shot within 10-15 weeks after the last injection is taken. If you are thinking to wait longer than 10-15 weeks, you surely need to work on a backup method for preventing any unwanted pregnancy for approximately a week.

3. Birth Control Implant

Birth Control Implant is a thin rod, similar to a matchstick that is inserted into the arm by the doctor. The rod releases particular hormones in the body that help in prevention against pregnancy for around 3 years. As the rod is inserted in the body, you don’t have to remember any kind of pills or protection backup. The birth control implant is 99.9% effective and is widely used by many women. After the completion of 3 years, if you are still not looking for a pregnancy, all you need to do is get the implant replaced from the doctor failing which you might end up with a surprise.

4. Vaginal Contraception

Vaginal contraception is used when having sex for safety. The contraception is inserted inside the vagina before having sex. When the contraception is inserted, it creates an unfriendly environment for the sperms and makes sure the process of fertilization doesn’t take place. Vaginal contraception is available in various forms like dissolvable film, suppository, cream, tablet, jelly, and foam.

Basically, at the time of sex, the pH levels of the vagina increases which boosts the sperms towards the reproductive canal. The vaginal contraception kills the sperms before the journey towards the reproductive canal. A non-hormonal gel is also available that helps in keeping the PH levels in its normal state while it kills the sperms for no further progress.

Whether you go for vaginal contraception or a non-hormonal gel, it should be used before 15 minutes of having sex to have the desired effect. Such spermicides are effective to about 70% to 80% however, it is advisable to combine the vaginal contraception with a backup method that is a diaphragm or condom.

Also see : Do you know about rhesus disease that may affect during pregnancy?

5. IUDs

IUD is another method used for prevention against unwanted pregnancy. IUDs are inserted by the doctor inside the vagina which prevents the sperms from traveling to the egg for fertilization. When used correctly, they are 99.2% effective. This method also eliminates the need of remembering the birth control method before having sex or on regular basis. Once the IUD is inserted inside the vagina, you are protected from pregnancy for around 3 to 10 years. There are two types of IUDs popular in the market that is the hormonal IUD and the copper IUD. The IUDs fail only when it slips partly or completely from the uterus. When this happens, it is advisable to seek an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. The use of IUDs is connected with other life-threatening complications like miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

6. Barrier Methods

Barrier methods include cervical cap, male condoms, female condoms, and diaphragm which block the sperms from getting inside the uterus. Compared to the hormonal methods for birth control, the barrier methods are less reliable. This means, women who are using condoms regularly while having sex might end up being pregnant within one year as many times the condoms either break or aren’t used perfectly.

Apart from all these, rhythm method and natural family planning are other ways to prevent pregnancy, also termed as fertility awareness methods. These methods help by tracking your menses cycle which helps in determining your ovulation period. For this, the temperature needs to be checked every day along with a calendar chart and cervical mucus. If any of these methods are followed totally, there are minimum chances of getting pregnant which is even less than 5%. It should also be noted that for women with irregular menses, FAMs is surely not an ideal option to go with.

Useful Tips to Prevent Birth Control Pills Failure

Here are some essential tips which help in preventing the failure of birth control pills:

  • Read the entire instruction provided in the packing and follow them properly without fail
  • Take the pills at a particular time every day steadily
  • Use an application that helps in tracking the periods and also reminds you to take your pill on time
  • Make sure you have your next pack of pills nearly a week before your existing pack gets over so that you don’t miss your next pill from a new pack
  • Make sure you take the missed pill as soon as possible
  • When you fail to take a pill or even two in a row, be ready with a backup method

If you are not sure to take the pills on time every day, it is suggested to talk with the doctor and select any other birth control method suitable to you like IUD, intrauterine device, etc.

Final Words

To conclude the concept, birth control pills are much effective compared to other birth control methods when you are willing to prevent unwanted pregnancies when used consistently and accurately. Hence, it is highly advisable to talk with a doctor before starting with the birth control pills to get the right and effective method in your favor.

So, what method are you thinking to start with for avoiding any surprise?

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