Best Birth Control Pills – How to Use Combined Oral Contraceptives For Women

Birth control pills are used to prevent untimely pregnancy. There are many types of birth control options for women but “The Pill”, a combined oral contraceptives is one of the best birth control pills recommended by many birth control professionals.

Based on the clinical research, it has been proven to be 99% effective if perfectly used as instructed by the experts and 93% effective if typically used. 

Different methods of birth control has been used since ancient times, but it remains the most effective and safe birth control options for women since the 20th century till date.

Birth control pills

Generally, using any method of birth control is called family planning, aka contraception.

General Information:

  • The pill requires that you take 1 pill every day 
  • It May cause irregular bleeding during the first few months of use
  • May also cause absence of periods or other side effects 
  • It’s safe for women with HIV/AIDS, even if she takes antiretroviral (ARV) medicines.
  • There are different birth control brands and combined oral contraceptives. Discuss available and most appropriate method with provider.
  • Does not protect against STIs, including HIV.

Birth Control Pill Effectiveness For Pregnancy Prevention

As stated earlier, pregnancy rate in the first year of use is:

  • Less than 1 pregnancy out of 100 women, I.e. 1% of 100 women that uses the contraception correctly without missing a single day got pregnant.
  • Typical use, this refers to those who often missed some pills, and the rate of pregnancies among these people is 8% out of 100 women.

How Do Oral Contraceptives Works 

  1. The pill is most effective when you take the pill at the same time every day. 
  2. The pill contains small amounts of the hormones estrogen and progestin
  3. These hormones make mucus around the cervix thick. This stops sperm from meeting an egg.
  4. They also prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation).

Important Facts:

– You control the method. 

– Can be stopped at anytime without a provider’s help.

– Does not interfere with s*x.

– You have to remember to take a pill once a day, every day.

– Always use male or female condoms to prevent HIV and other STIs.

Method Not Advised if You:

  • Are breastfeeding an infant less than 6 months old. 
  • Smoking cigarettes and are 35 years old or older.
  • Have high blood pressure, 140/90 or higher.
  • Have certain uncommon serious diseases of heart or blood vessels. Discuss with your provider.
  • Have severe liver conditions.
  • Have blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism, or are on anticoagulant therapy. See your doctor.
  • Have lupus 
  • Have gall bladder disease, even if medical-treated. Discuss your provider. 
  • Having breast cancer or a history of breast cancer.
  • Have migraine headaches (a severe headache that does not go away with paracetamol).
  • Take medicine for seizures or take rifampcipin or ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitors as part of HAART. 

Benefits Of Birth Control Pills 

  1. Helps prevent cancer of the uterus and ovaries.
  2. Helps prevent pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  3. May help protect against ovarian cysts and anemia.
  4. Reduces menstrual cramps and menstrual bleeding problems.

How To Use Oral Contraceptive Pills

  • Begin with the first pill in the packet today if your provider is reseanably sure you are not pregnant.
  • Take 1 pill every day, for example every night before going to bed.
  • If you vomit within 2hrs of taking a pill, take another pill from your packet as soon as possible. Continue taking pills as usual.
  • Have a new packet of pills on hand before you finish your 28-days or 21-days packet.

See below table for a comprehensive details in tabular form:

If Using: What To Do:
A 28-day packet and you finish the packet  Begin a new immediately.
A 21-day packet and you finish the packet  Wait no more than 7 days before starting the new packet.

If you get your pills from a pharmacy, read the above explanations on contraceptive pills side effects, or the instructions in the brochure. 

If you miss any pills, follow the instructions below:

If You: Do This:
Missed 1 or 2 pills
  • Take a pill as soon as possible.
  • Keep taking pills as usual. (You may end up taking 2 pills at the same time or on the same day.)
Missed 3 or more pills in the 1st or 2nd week of pill cycle


Start a new packet 3 or more days later

  • Take a pill as soon as possible.
  • Use a backup method (Condom) or avoid s*x for the next 7 days. 
  • If you had unprotected s*x in the past 5 days, consider taking emergency pills (ECPs). 
Missed 3 or more in 3rd week of the pill cycle
  • Take a pill as soon as possible.
  • Finish all hormonal pills in the packet. For a 28-pill packet, throw away the 7 non-hormonal pills at the end of the packet.
  • Start a new packet the next day.
  • Use a backup method (Condom) or avoid s*x for the next 7 days.
Missed any non-hormonal pills (last 7 pills in 28-day pill packet).
  • Discard the missed non-hormonal pills.
  • Keep taking the pill, one each day. Start the packet as usual

Note: Return to the health care facility anytime if you have any problems or questions about pros and cons of the birth control pills side effects.

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