Do you take the pill? It’s one of the most widely used contraceptive methods, and it’s relied on by millions of people to protect against pregnancies. There are definitely things that you should know before you take the pill, though – and I was totally surprised at how few people knew some of these recently. It seems doctors haven’t quite educated us as much as they should have! Here are 7 essential things you should know about the pill if you are going to rely on it:
1. It’s Free
Yep, you read that right. You can get the pill for free. One of the most talked-about parts of the Affordable Care Act is the requirement to provide the pill for free. There are some exceptions, including religious employers and employers who have been granted a longer time to deal with the changes, and you might have to change brands if yours isn’t covered. It’s a breakthrough if you are struggling to pay though, and it’s definitely one of the things that you should know about the pill!
2. You Need to Be Regular
I’m not talking about periods. If you use the pill correctly, it accounts for just 5% of unintended pregnancies. For the 19% of women who don’t use it right, though, it amounts for a whopping 43% of unintended pregnancies. Yep, that’s right – nearly 50% of unplanned pregnancies. You need to take the pill every day, at the right time, and as directed, to be protected. Just popping it when you remember isn’t good enough.
3. There May Be Side Effects
There are numerous types of the pill. While they are all effective at preventing pregnancies, they have different side effects – some can cause headaches, for example, whilst others can be used as acne medications. As different contraceptive pills contain different hormone levels, you may find that some suit you and some don’t. You’ll need to try a few to find one that you get on with. While your doctor should work with you, don’t be afraid to keep your own notes too. The onus is on you.
4. Want Security? Get an IUD
The pill isn’t your only option. IUDs are 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancies, because they completely eliminate human error. While the idea of insertion can seem scary, these soft plastic devices really aren’t, and they offer long term and safe protection. There are very few side effects, too. An IUD is definitely worth considering.
5. It Doesn’t Cause Weight Gain
The first few contraceptive pills were totally loaded with hormones, and caused huge weight gain when they were prescribed. Newer versions have much lower hormone levels, which reduces side effects and makes the pills safer, and has also pretty much stopped weight gain. Recent studies found no sign that taking any contraceptive pill led to weight gain at all. It’s widely believed that the pill is still blamed because the two most common groups taking the pill are young girls, who put on weight as they grow up, and women in relationships, who are statistically proven to gain weight anyway. So don’t worry about the pill changing your weight, it won’t. And if you weight does change, speak to your GP. The pill is unlikely to be to blame.
6. It Doesn’t Play Nice
There are some meds that shouldn’t be taken with the pill. That includes antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-fungal medications and even some natural medications, such as St Johns Wort. That’s why it’s really important that you are totally honest about what other meds you take, and you make sure that you use alternative protection if you do use any clashing meds. You are unlikely to be protected against pregnancy otherwise.
7. There’s No Time Limit
One of the most important things you should know about the pill? That there is no time limit. There is a whole lot of anxiety about how long you can take the pill for before it affects fertility, and how long it takes to get pregnant afterwards. Until recently, there wasn’t much research into the area. Now we know that if you don’t smoke, you can take the pill indefinitely. It won’t affect your fertility. You can even take it through the menopause. There is no impact on your fertility if you take the pill for years – and you can get pregnant straight away when you stop. So relax, and don’t worry.
So, how many of these things you should know about the pill did you already know? It’s an area where there is a lot of confusion, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to make sure you understand exactly how to take your pill, and exactly what you are protected against. And remember that the pill won’t protect against STIs, so use a condom! Know any other things you should know about the pill? Share them with me!