The oral contraceptive pill, also known as birth control pill, is suitable for most healthy women, regardless of age, and can be used long-term. It is one of the world’s most prescribed medications – over 100 million women across the globe rely on it. There are two kinds of oral contraceptives, the combined oral contraceptive (COC), which contains both estrogen and progestin, and the progestin-only contraceptive (POP). The Pill is available at pharmacies but requires a prescription.
How does it work?
- The oral contraceptive pill works by preventing the ovary from releasing an egg, thickening the cervical mucus making it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg, and changing the lining of the uterus making implantation difficult.
- The Pill is taken every day, ideally at the same time each day. Traditional pills are set up with pills for three weeks, followed by a pill-free week or a week of placebo pills.
- Newer pill options have adjusted the regimen to provide effective contraception with lower doses of hormones and as little as two days of placebo to minimize hormone fluctuations and side effects.