The birth control pill.
You’ve heard of it, and I can almost guarantee you that at least one person you know has taken it.
Now just because your best friend, your lab partner, or even your mother takes the pill does not automatically mean that it’s right for you.
The pill can be great for one person and horrible for another.
So today, we will do a deep dive into the pros and cons of the birth control pill.
This way, you can determine whether it might be right for you.
As always, I am not a doctor, so after reading this, if you think the pill might be right for you, please talk to your doctor.
Just a few things I want you to keep in mind as you read this article.
- The birth control pill is not for everyone.
- Just because Becky from 6th period AP History takes it and loves it doesn’t mean it will be great for you.
- Taking the birth control pill is a personal decision.
- Do not let yourself be influenced or pressured to take something just to make your boyfriend happy or because everyone is doing it.
- It fucks with your hormones.
- This is neither good nor bad. Just keep in mind that your hormonal level will change, so it may change your behavior, your preferences, or even your appearance.
- It requires attention
- The pill is not like an IUD; it’s not one and done. It’s a commitment. It requires that you take it daily and stay on top of refills.
- You need to be able to have an open dialogue with your doctor.
- Finding the right birth control pill for you may take some time, so you need to be comfortable enough with your doctor to tell them how you are feeling and what side effects you are experiencing. This way, y’all can work together to find one that is perfect for your body.
What is the Birth Control Pill?
I always like to include these sections to make sure everyone is on the same page.
In medical terminology, the birth control pill is a hormonal method of birth control that comes in an oral contraceptive that must be taken by mouth every day.
In laymen’s terms, it’s a pill you take every day that contains hormones to prevent you from getting pregnant.
The pill (depending on which brand you get) has varying degrees of estrogen and progestin.
If you want a more in-depth discussion about what exactly the birth control pill is and how it works, click here!
Pros of the Birth Control Pill
This section will cover all the reasons why the pill is beneficial and an excellent contraceptive.
There are Different Types of Birth Control Pills
The best thing (in my opinion) about the pill is that there are different types of pills, and you can choose which works best with your lifestyle.
There is the combination pill and the minipill.
Within the umbrella of the Combination Pill, there is:
- Monophasic (One Phase)
- These pills are on a one-month cycle. So each active pill (contains hormones) gives you the same amount of hormones throughout the month. On the last week of the cycle, you’d take inactive pills. That way, you can have your period.
- Multiphasic (Multiple Phase)
- These pills are also on a one-month cycle, but they give you varying doses of hormones throughout the month. In the last week, you take inactive pills to have your period. This type of pill mimics the regular hormonal changes that occur during your menstrual cycle.
- These pills are on a 13-week cycle instead of a one-month cycle. So for 12 weeks, you take active pills, and on the 13th week, you take inactive pills to have your period. This means that you would only have your period 3-4 times a year.
Progestin-only Pills (Mini Pills)
This type of birth control pill only contains the hormone progestin.
Unlike its counterparts, the minipills do not contain estrogen.
This pill is an excellent option for older individuals and those who cannot take estrogen due to medical reasons.
The number one question everyone has regarding unprotected sex is, “how effective is the birth control pill?”
And I get it.
Getting pregnant, especially when you don’t want to, can put a damper on things.
The good news is that in the case of the birth control pill (the combination & the minipill), ideally, the effectiveness rate is 99.9%
So 9 out of 100 individuals on the pill will get pregnant.
If you ask me, those odds are pretty good.
But unfortunately, that statistic does not take into account human error.
What is human error, you ask?
Well, humans are not perfect. We make mistakes. And I mean a lot of mistakes. We get distracted or don’t read the instructions correctly, or maybe we are in such a rush that we forget to take the pill that morning.
Whatever it is, the human race fucks up a lot. In the case of the birth control pill, when human error is taken into account, the effectiveness rate is lowered to 91%.
So the odds aren’t horrible, but they are something you may need to consider.
To make sure that the pill is working at its best, you have to take it at the same time every day.
Remember that the combination pill gives you a 12-hour window (if you miss your designated time), and the minipill gives you a 3-hour window.
If you miss your designated time and take it past the window, it may not be as effective.
Can Help with Menstrual Cycle
The hormones in the pill can help with your period.
It can help regulate your period and lessen the cramping.
I have many friends who take the pill specifically for this reason.
Moreover, it can lower the risk for certain cancers.
So if your period is always late or the cramps literally make you want to crawl into a hole and die, you may want to consider the pill.
If you are on top of your shit and you take that pill at the same time every day, that baby is going to protect you from having someone else’s baby.
So you don’t have to worry because your back is covered while it’s getting blown out.
Different Levels of Hormones
Remember when I mentioned that depending on the brand, some pills have varying levels of hormones?
Well, good because it’s something you need to keep in mind.
If you decide to go on the pill, you may find that the hormone dosage your doctor started you out on may be too high or too low for your body.
So this is where the open line of communication with your doctor comes in. You need to be able to discuss what you are experiencing and how it is impacting you.
So whether you are experiencing daily migraines, a dry vagina, or an inability to orgasm, you need to be able to tell your doctor all.
It’s the only way you can find a hormone dosage level that works for you.
Just so you know, most pills contain 20-35 micrograms of estrogen, while some pills can have as little as 10 micrograms.
Under the supervision of your doctor, play around with dosage and find what works for you.
Related Article: A Beginner’s Guide to Birth Control
Cons of the Birth Control Pill
It’s time to cover all the possible negative side effects that one may experience while taking this pill.
Side Effects Vary Person to Person
Naturally, with anything that will mess with the natural rhythm of your hormones, you might experience some side effects.
Unfortunately, you cannot predict which side effects you experience because it will depend on your body’s reaction.
So just because Becky doesn’t have any side effects doesn’t mean you won’t have any.
Some common side effects that many people who are on the pill experience include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Breast Tenderness
- Bleeding between periods
- Mood Changes
- Spotting between periods
And these side effects happen because your body is adjusting to the changing levels of your hormones. They should go away in a few months, but if they don’t, you might want to talk to your doctor about switching.
Some other side effects that are less common but more serious include
- Ab pain (belly pain)
- Chest pain
- Headaches (severe)
- Eye problems (blurred vision)
- Swelling or aching in the legs or thighs
If you experience any of these while taking the pill, you need to contact your doctor immediately. It may be a symptom of a more significant problem such as liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.
Taking the Birth Control Pill (especially the combo pill) increases your risk for certain life-threatening illnesses.
- Heart attack
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Pulmonary Embolism
- Blood Clots
- The good news is that “according to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, out of 10,000 women, fewer than ten will develop a blood clot after taking combo pill for a year.”
- So the odds may be in your favor.
Now, this isn’t to fearmonger but to let you know that you are exposing yourself to certain risks by taking the pill.
But with life comes risk. You have to see if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
The pill is most effective when it’s taken every day at the same time.
If you miss a pill or don’t take it simultaneously every day, it may decrease the overall effectiveness of the method, thus increasing your chances of getting pregnant.
This also means that you will need to have another form of birth control at the ready in case you forget to take it.
And you are going to need to carry your birth control with you so you can take it at your designated time.
Doesn’t Protect Against STIs
While the birth control pill is very good at preventing pregnancy, it is not good at protecting against STIs.
And yes, STIs are still a concern (even if you are in a monogamous relationship).
Think about it. You are having unprotected sex.
Hell, you are just having sex with a different person.
That automatically puts you at risk.
So, unfortunately, you may need to have a condom or a dental dam on hand to get that extra protection because, in truth, you don’t know who that person is fucking around with.
Plus, you don’t want to deal with an STI.
No dick or pussy is worth the stress.
Related Article: The Survival Guide to STDs: What Are They & How to Protect Yourself
To me, the pill seems like it requires a lot of maintenance.
You have to take it at the same time every day.
This means it’s coming with you if you stay over at your hookups, FWBs, or partner’s place overnight.
It also means that you have to stop what you are doing and take it within that exact moment.
And on top of that, you have to be on top of your prescription.
You have to have a new pack at the ready and can’t wait until the last minute.
This also means that you will need to have access to a doctor in case anything happens.
And if you miss a few days, you have to call your doctor because the effectiveness won’t be the same, and you need to know how to get back on track.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Like I said in the beginning, I am not a doctor.
Moreover, I am not here to tell you whether the pill is a good option for you.
I am just giving you all the information to make an informed decision about what is right for your body.
I also highly recommend that you talk to your doctor.
Be open and honest with them.
Here are some questions to help you get that conversation started:
- Is there anything in my medical history that would indicate that taking the birth control pill is not for me?
- What dosage would I start on?
- Which type of pill, the combo or the minipill, is better for me?
- What should I do if I forget to take the pill?
- Am I taking any medication that could interfere with the pill?
- Am I at higher risk for developing blood clots or high blood pressure from the pill?
- What other birth control options should I consider?
Things to Think About
Getting on birth control is a big decision, and finding which works for you can be exhausting.
But I promise you that once you find that thing that works for you and your lifestyle, it will make the hassle worth it.
If you take anything away from this article, let it be this:
The decision to get on the pill or use any birth control is yours.
Do not let anyone pressure you into it because it will be your mental and physical health on the line.
So talk to your doctor.
Do your own research.
And be open to hearing different opinions.