Safe Choices: Women’s Birth Control Explained

women's birth control methods

Welcome to SheMD, where we prioritize and celebrate women’s health. In today’s blog post, we delve into the realm of birth control, a crucial aspect of women’s reproductive health. Understanding birth control is essential for making informed choices about family planning and overall well-being.

What is the birth control pill?

At the forefront of contraceptive options for women is the birth control pill. This tiny but mighty tablet has been a game-changer in family planning since its introduction. Birth control pills typically contain synthetic hormones—estrogen and progestin—that mimic the natural hormones in a woman’s body.

Which kinds of birth control pills are there?

Birth control pills come in various formulations, allowing women to choose the option
that best suits their needs. There are combination pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin, and progestin-only pills for those who cannot tolerate estrogen. Additionally, there are extended-cycle pills, which reduce the number of menstrual periods a woman has in a year.

Are birth control pills effective?

When taken consistently and correctly, birth control pills are highly effective in preventing pregnancy. However, it’s crucial to understand that no contraceptive method is foolproof. Consistency is key, and the effectiveness of birth control pills can be compromised if doses are missed or taken irregularly.

How do birth control pills work?

Birth control pills prevent pregnancy through a simple yet effective process. They stop ovulation, ensuring that eggs aren’t released, and thicken cervical mucus, making it tough for sperm to reach eggs. In some cases, they also alter the uterine lining, reducing the chance of a fertilized egg attaching. Having a consistent schedule is crucial for their effectiveness. Choosing the right pill involves considering personal health and lifestyle. At SheMD, we support women in understanding their options and promoting informed choices for reproductive health.

Dose packs:

Traditional Dose Packs:

1. 28-day Packs:

  • Take active pills for 21 days, followed by seven days of inactive or placebo pills.
  • Menstruation typically occurs during the inactive week, mimicking a natural menstrual cycle.
  • This pack structure ensures a consistent monthly pattern.

2. 21-day Packs:

  • Take active pills for 21 days, followed by a seven-day break with no pills.
  • Menstruation occurs during the week without pills.
  • Set reminders to start a new pack on day 29 to maintain contraceptive efficacy.


Extended or Continuous Dose Packs:

1. 91-day Packs:

  • Take active pills for 12 weeks (three months), followed by seven days of inactive pills.
  • Menstruation occurs during the inactive week.
  • With this pack, you only experience menstruation four weeks a year, providing greater convenience and continuity.

2. 365-day Packs:

  • Take active pills every day without a break.
  • You may experience some breakthrough bleeding or no bleeding at all.
  • This is very specific, and you should visit several specialists before making a decision to avoid a negative experience.

These extended dose packs provide flexibility and options for women seeking alternatives to the traditional 28-day cycle. Choosing the right pack depends on individual preferences, lifestyle, and health considerations.

Are there certain medications I should avoid while taking the pill?

It’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any medication while on birth control. Some medications, such as certain antibiotics and anticonvulsants, may interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills. Your healthcare provider can guide you on alternative contraceptive methods or adjust your medication accordingly.

Risks and Benefits:

Birth control pills have revolutionized women’s health, providing a spectrum of benefits that extend beyond contraception. However, like any medication, it comes with potential risks. Understanding both sides is essential for informed decision-making in women’s healthcare.

Benefits of Birth Control Pills:

1. Reliable Contraception:

  • One of the primary reasons women choose birth control pills is their exceptional efficacy in preventing unplanned pregnancies. When taken consistently and correctly, these pills offer a high level of reliability, empowering women to take control of their reproductive choices.

2. Regulation of Menstrual Cycles:

  • Birth control pills play a significant role in regulating menstrual cycles. They provide a predictable and consistent pattern, making it easier for women to plan around their periods. This regularization can be particularly beneficial for those with irregular or painful menstrual cycles.

3. Reduction in Menstrual Cramps:

  • Many women experience menstrual cramps, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain. Birth control pills can help alleviate these symptoms by regulating hormonal fluctuations, leading to a reduction in the intensity and duration of menstrual cramps.


Potential Risks of Birth Control Pills:

1. Blood Clot Formation:

  • One of the most significant concerns associated with birth control pills is an increased risk of blood clot formation. Estrogen, a hormone present in combination pills, can contribute to the thickening of blood and clot formation. This risk is particularly heightened for women who smoke or have pre-existing conditions that predispose them to clotting disorders.

2. Cardiovascular Risks:

  • Some studies suggest a potential association between long-term use of birth control pills and an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. Women with existing cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension or diabetes, may need careful consideration when choosing this form of contraception.

3. Mood Changes:

  • While not a universal experience, some women may notice changes in mood or emotional well-being when taking birth control pills. It’s essential to communicate any adverse effects to healthcare providers for appropriate adjustments.

Conclusion:

Navigating the world of birth control is an integral part of women’s health, and understanding the options available is empowering. At SheMD, we advocate for informed choices and conversations surrounding women’s health. Remember, your healthcare provider is your best ally in making decisions that are right for you. Stay informed, stay healthy, and embrace the power of choice in your reproductive journey.

Dr. Meryl E. Kahan

Dr. Meryl E. Kahan, MD, FACOG, MSCP, is the founder of SheMD, a gynecology and medical aesthetics practice in Little Neck, Douglaston, and the Great Neck area. She is dedicated to providing compassionate care to women of all ages, emphasizing comprehensive wellness and personalized treatment approaches. Dr. Kahan's expertise in menopause care, hormone therapy, and sexual dysfunction allows her to provide tailored treatments for each patient. She also offers a wide range of aesthetic solutions to help patients achieve their goals while promoting self-confidence and well-being. She is committed to providing a supportive and empowering healthcare experience for women.

Location: Little Neck, NY

Areas of Expertise: Women's health and wellness, gynecology, menopause care, hormone replacement therapy, sexual dysfunction, personalized treatment plans, cosmetic procedures, medical aesthetics, hair care

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