Once you start becoming more sexually active as a teenager, a thousand red lights start going off in your head, and the biggest one being that you do not want a pregnancy scare and hence you’ll resort to condoms, morning-after pills, and inevitably “birth control”. Actually, you’d be surprised to know that the pills your mom immediately gives you when you mention your period being irregular, are birth control pills. And when you’re doing Umra or Hajj (if you’re Muslim), she gives you the same ones to stave off your period.
We have all heard the term ‘birth control’ long before we learned about it in biology class – that is if you did at all. We have heard it whispered down corridors, in our favourite TV shows and movies, but one way or another we genuinely think of birth control as a magic solution.
You might have encountered it through a prescription as it’s often prescribed to young girls to deal with some changes which we experience when going through puberty; acne, irregular or heavy periods. And, the purpose of the pill in that case is to help ‘regulate’ your period. However, it doesn’t necessarily do that, despite appearing to that on the outside.
Let’s scratch past the marketing propaganda and get into the reality of things; when you are having a constant influx of hormones going into your body every single day, and then you stop for seven days your body is bound to react to this pause. And, that reaction is something called withdrawal bleeding. This is not your real period. Withdrawal bleeding is lighter than your actual period. The drop in the hormone levels in your body is naturally going to cause a withdrawal reaction. It’s just like any other drug you take, your body adapts and gets used to whatever is in that drug, and if you suddenly stop your body is bound to react to that.
This is concerning because our periods are a very natural thing, and the menstrual cycle with all the hormonal changes that we go through is a beautiful biological phenomenon that happens for a reason. And, maybe it’s worth a thought whether or not you want to do this to your body especially as a long term solution.
The birth control pills also happen to have a lot of side effects that can affect you in your day to day life. They can cause changes in your appetite and hence you can gain or lose weight. It might result in increased anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. These are things that a lot of women report after taking the pill and they try to brush it off because it’s not something they are warned about by their doctor beforehand and therefore they come to the conclusion that it is completely unrelated.
So, what else do you need to know?
What is in the pill?
There are two types of birth control pills:
A- Combination pills: these are a mixture of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It’ll thicken your cervical mucus and thin the lining of your uterus to prevent an embryo from attaching to it. They will also suppress your body from ovulating. Here you’ll take a pill every single day but for seven days it will be a placebo pill, and it’s usually just sugar.
B- Progesterone only pills: this will also thicken your cervical mucus and thin the lining of your uterus. You’ll also take a pill every single day but usually, none of them are placebos.
How efficient is the pill?
Well, if you follow the instructions and take your pill every single day, at around the exact same time it is 99% effective. And, let’s be honest, we are humans, we are not perfect and 9% do not take the pill the correct way so there is room for error.
Also, please check with your gynecologist if you are taking any other medications because that could reduce the effectiveness of the pill as multiple chemicals are interacting together in your body.
If you choose to take ‘the pill’ here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
#1 Do not skip dosages
#2 Try to take it at the same time every day – set reminders on your phone
#3 you might deal with bloating, vomiting, and some abdominal pains
#4 stay safe
#5 make sure you’re consulting a doctor, please.