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Understanding Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are a very common in contraceptives today and there are positives and negatives when deciding on certain birth control pills. The two main types of birth control pills are the minipill and combination birth control pills. The minipill is only progestin, and each pill holds the same amount of progestin and all the pills are active. Combination birth control pills hold both progestin and estrogen and there are many types to choose from depending on how frequent someone wants their periods and the dose of hormones that is right for a person.

Also read our blog about Obtaining Birth Control Pills over the counter.

The combination birth control pills have different combinations of inactive pills and active pills depending on how frequent someone wants their period. Conventional packs typically hold 21 active pills and seven inactive pills, or 24 active pills and four inactive pills, and bleeding will happen each month when the inactive pills are taken. Continuous dosing or extended cycle usually hold 84 active pills and seven inactive pills and bleeding will happen usually four times a year when the inactive pills are taken. There are also formulations that hold only active pills and eliminating bleeding is available.

Combination birth control pills are also categorized if each active pill holds the same amount of hormones. Multiphasic combination birth control pills the amount of hormones in active pills differ. In monophasic combination birth control pill, the active pills hold the same amount of estrogen and progestin.

Combination birth control pills inhibit a person’s ovaries from releasing an egg and they also slow an egg’s advancement through the fallopian tubes, thicken cervical mucus and thin the lining of the uterus. All these elements combined help to stop sperm from joining the egg. The minipill slows an egg’s advancement through the fallopian tubes, thickens cervical mucus and thins the endometrium and all these things assist in preventing sperm from reaching the egg. The minipill occasionally suppresses ovulation as well.

It is important to always discuss with your doctor the different birth control pills that would fit best. A doctor may discourage the use of combination birth control pills if a person has just given birth, are older than 35 and smoke, have a history of breast cancer, have diabetes-related complications, have high blood pressure, and more. The minipill may be discouraged by a doctor if a person has breast cancer, unexplained uterine bleeding, have breast cancer, and more.

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Sophie Forcioli, RN, BSN, MA, GC-C

Sophie graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2015 with her bachelors of science with a major in nursing. She is certified in grief counseling and recently completed her master's degree in strategic communication. Sophie has worked at major hospitals in Los Angeles the last seven years. Her first year in nursing she worked on a medical surgical/oncology floor and then transitioned into the main operating room and has been working in surgery since 2017. Sophie is passionate about giving back to underserved communities and traveled to India in 2018 to give free surgeries to residents living in poverty stricken rural areas in India for three weeks. She has served as UCLA's wellness coordinator for the surgery department as well as other hospital committees such as structural empowerment for employees and precepting new nurses.




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