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1) Barrier Methods
The Male Condom
Male Birth Control Pill
The Female Condom
2) Hormonal Methods
Birth Control Pills
Chewable Birth Control Pill
3) IUDs (Intrauterine Devices)
4) Emergency Contraception
New Emergency Contraceptive Ella®
Often called "the Pill", birth control pills contain two hormones - estrogen and progestin. Birth control pills work by preventing the monthly release of an egg, making pregnancy impossible. The Pill also prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus of the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to reach both the uterus and fallopian tubes.
One pill is taken daily for 3 weeks, at which point, either the woman stops taking a pill for a week or takes a pill without hormones. It is during the fourth week while the pill is stopped that a women menstruates.
Different kinds of birth control pills contain different amounts of hormones. It is usually recommended that the lowest possible dose required to be effective be taken. Lower doses usually cause fewer potential side effects.
The birth control pill is considered 99.9% effective for those who take it properly. Key to successful use of the Pill is taking it every day and starting a new cycle of pills on time.
The Pill also offers other health benefits in addition to preventing pregnancy. It has been shown to protect against certain cancers, for example. However, some side effects are usually experienced for the first few months of taking the Pill, but usually will subside with continued use. Although serious side effects are rare, the Pill is not usually prescribed for women with diabetes, high blood pressure or who are seriously overweight or obese.
The birth control pill is not for everyone. Do not take the Pill if you have or exhibit any of the following:
- Any history of stroke
- Thrombophlebitis or thromboembolic disorder or a history of blood clots
- Any history of angina, heart attack or heart failure
- Any history of kidney disease
- Those who are over 35 and smoke
- Migraine headaches
- High blood pressure
- Active gallbladder disease or disease with jaundice
- Those over 50 years of age
- Immediately following childbirth
- Any medications or psychological illness that would prevent taking the medication consistently or correctly
Visit the Reproductive Health Online website, sponsored by Johns Hopkins University for more information about reproductive health and birth control methods.
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