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Birth Control Pills
What are birth control pills?
Birth control pills are also called oral contraceptives, or the pill. It is medicine that helps prevent pregnancy. Birth control pills work by preventing ovulation. Ovulation is when the ovaries make and release an egg cell each month. If this egg gets fertilized by sperm, pregnancy occurs. Birth control pills may also help to prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from fertilizing an egg.
What may be done before I can start taking birth control pills?
You need to see your caregiver to get a prescription. Any of the following may be done before your caregiver gives you a prescription:
- Your caregiver will ask you about diseases and illnesses you have had in the past. He will check your risk for blood clots, heart conditions, or stroke. He will also check your blood pressure, and may do a breast and pelvic exam. A Pap smear may also be done during the pelvic exam. This is a test to make sure you do not have abnormal changes on your cervix. You may need other tests, such as a urine test, to make sure you are not pregnant.
- Your caregiver will ask if you take any medicines and if you smoke. Smoking increases your risk for stroke, heart attack, or a blood clot in your lungs. If you smoke, you should not take certain kinds of birth control pills.
What are the advantages of birth control pills?
When birth control pills are used correctly, the chances of getting pregnant are very low. Birth control pills may help decrease bleeding and pain during your monthly period. They may also help prevent cancer of the uterus and ovaries.
What are the disadvantages of birth control pills?
You may have sudden changes in your mood or feelings while you take birth control pills. You may have nausea and decreased sex drive. You may have an increased appetite and rapid weight gain. You may also have bleeding in between periods, less frequent periods, vaginal dryness, and breast pain. Birth control pills will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Rarely, some birth control pills can increase your risk for a blood clot. This may become life-threatening.
What should I do if I decide I want to get pregnant?
If you are planning to have a baby, ask your caregiver when you may stop taking your birth control pills. It may take some time for you to start ovulating again. Ask your caregiver for more information about pregnancy after birth control pills.
When should I start taking birth control pills after I have a baby?
If you are not breastfeeding, you may start taking birth control pills 3 weeks after you give birth. You may be able to take certain types of birth control pills if you are breastfeeding. These pills can be started from 6 weeks to 6 months after you give birth. Ask your caregiver for more information about when to start taking birth control pills after you give birth.
When should I contact my caregiver?
- You have forgotten to take a birth control pill.
- You have mood changes, such as depression, since starting birth control pills.
- You have nausea or you are vomiting.
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You missed a period and have questions or concerns about being pregnant.
- You still have bleeding 4 months after taking birth control pills correctly.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care or call 911?
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- You have severe pain, numbness, or swelling in your arms or legs.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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