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Dr. Burcu KaramürselObstetrician, Gynecologist, Genital Esthetic Surgeon in Turkey
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Frequently Asked Questions About Oral Contraceptives

Frequently Asked Questions About Oral Contraceptives

How do birth control pills work?

Oral conraceptives prevent pregnancy by:

  • Inhibiting ovulation,
  • Thinning endometrial layer,
  • Preventing sperm enterance into the uterus.

How effective is birth control pills?

When used carefully, risk of getting pregnant is less than 1%. They must be taken every day at the same hour for maximum protection.

Do birth control pills cause infertility?

Birth control pills do not cause infertility. It is a reversible method of contraception, the patient can get pregnant after stopping to take the pills.

Do you need additional protection with birth control pills?

Oral contraceptives are not protective against sexually transmitted diseases, therefore condoms should always be used.

When do birth control pills start working?

If you start taking the pills during the first day of your period, protection will start right away and no back-up method is necessary to prevent pregnancy.

Do birth control pills cause weight gain?

Birth control pills do not cause you to put on extra weight. There may be fluid retention and swelling in the beginning as a temporary side effect. But there will not be increased fat tissue in your body.

Do birth control pills shrink ovarian cyts?

If a cyst is already present, birth control pill will not cause it to disappear. But since oral contraceptive pills stop ovulation, they will prevent the formation of new functional ovarian cysts.

Do birth control pills cause blood clots?

The estrogen found in combined oral contraceptve pills slightly increases the risk of clot formation. Therefore patients over 35 years of age who smoke should not use combined oral contraceptives. But for younger patients without additional known risk factors, the risk of clot formation is very low.

Do birth control pills cause acne?

Birth control pills do not cause acne. In contrast some of the pills contain anti androgenic progestin hormones, which are used in the treatment of acne caused by hormonal imbalance.

Do birth control pills cause breast cancer?

Most studies have not found an overall increased risk of breast cancer in women taking oral contraceptives.

What types of Oral Contraceptives Exist?

There are mainly two types of oral contaceptives:

  • Progestin-only,
  • Combined (estrogen and progestin).

How should Oral Contraceptives be taken?

Combined oral contraceptives should be started on the first day of menstruation. Some formulations contain 21 tablets and at the end of the package, there should be a break of 7 days before starting to take the next package.

For formulations having 28 tablets, packages should be taken without giving a break between two cycles. 28 day packages have placebo tablets in the end during which menstruation starts. The pill should be taken at the same time everyday.

How long can I use birth control pills?

There is no certain time limit for oral contraceptive use. But for patients over 35 years who smoke, the risk of clot formation increases and birth control pills should not be used.

Patients should have regular gynecological check-ups to see if the pills are still safe for them.

What are the additional health benefits of oral contraceptives?

Oral conraceptives have several additional health benefits such as:

  • To regulate menstrual cycles,
  • To decrease menstrual bleeding and pain,
  • To decrease the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Can oral contraceptives be used for treatment purposes?

Oral contraceptives may be used for the medical treatment of hormonal imbalance, endometriosis, fibroids and functional ovarian cysts.

Can everyone use birth control pills?

They are safe for most women. However there is a slightly increased risk of deep vein thrombosis, stroke and heart attack especially for patients with additional risk factors such as:

  • Women over 35 years who smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day,
  • Women with high cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension.

How should Progestin-only pills (Mini pills) be taken?

There are 28 tablets in each package of progestin-only pills.They should be used  every day at the same hour without giving a break between packages.

What are the advantages of mini pills over combined oral contraceptives?

Patients who cannot use combined oral contraceptive pills due to lactation, migraine or thrombophilia (increased tendency for clot formation) can use progestin-only pills.

What are the side effects of birth control pills?

There may be several side effects of oral contaceptives such as:

  • Intermenstrual bleeding or spotting,
  • Braest tenderness,
  • Nausea,
  • Headache,
  • Amenorhea,
  • Anxiety or depression.

Most side effects will disappear after a few months of use.

What is Morning after pill?

It is a method of emergency contraception. It is used to prevent pregnancy for women whose birth control method has failed (eg. when condom is torn or slipped off during withdrawal) or had unprotected sex.

It is not a primary method of birth control, so it should not be used for this purpose. Its effectiveness is much lower than birth control pills.

Update Date: 18.11.2022
Burcu Karamürsel, MD
Dr. Burcu Karamürsel
Burcu Karamürsel, MD
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Burcu Karamürsel, MDDr. Burcu KaramürselObstetrician, Gynecologist, Genital Esthetic Surgeon in Turkey
+90312 219 2233+90545 219 2234
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