The oral birth control pill

The oral birth control pill

THE oral contraceptive pill, commonly known as “the pill,” is a hormone-based method of preventing pregnancy. Birth control pills work by preventing ovulation. No egg is produced, so there is nothing for the sperm to fertilize. Pregnancy cannot occur.
“The pill” is used by a greater percentage of women in Lesotho, and it has both advantages and disadvantages. People with different risk factors may be advised to use a particular kind of pill, which is why it is mandatory to go to the hospital/clinic for full examination before taking the pill.

There are different types of contraceptive pills. They all contain synthetic forms of the hormone estrogen, progesterone, or both. Synthetic progesterone is called progestin. Combination pills contain progestin and estrogen.
Used correctly, the pill is highly effective, but because people make mistakes, and sometimes forget to take it, pregnancy can still occur.
Birth control pills do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Only a condom can help prevent this type of infection

Common side effects of oral contraceptives include:
Intermenstrual spotting, nausea, breast tenderness, headaches and migraine, weight gain, mood changes, missed periods, decreased libido, vaginal discharge, changes to eyesight for those using contact lenses.

The risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and cardiovascular problems
The combined pill can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, such as blood clots, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a clot on the lung, stroke or heart attack.

Birth control pills have also been associated with an increase in blood pressure, benign liver tumors, and some types of cancer. The risk is even greater with long term use.
People with a history of blood clots, heart attacks or stroke are advised not to take the combination birth control pill.
Combination pills can slightly increase the risk of cardiovascular side effects, such as heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. These can all be fatal. The risk is higher with some pills

Symptoms to report immediately to the doctor when on birth control pill:
Anyone who has uncontrolled hypertension or a personal or family history of blood clots, heart attack, or stroke should ask their medical provider about alternative methods of birth control.

Alternative methods of birth control:
For those who cannot use or do not wish to use the birth control pill, other options are available. Next week we will look into alternative methods of birth control.

Retselisitsoe Nkhahle is Mosotho pharmacist based in Botswana. She is pursuing an Msc.  

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