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Young woman holding birth control pill blister pack

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​Birth control pill

What is it?

  • The birth control pill is medication that is taken every day by mouth to prevent pregnancy.

How does the Pill work?

  • The combined oral contraceptive contains two types of hormones: estrogen and progestin.
  • The pill releases two hormones, into the bloodstream. The hormones work together to:
    • Prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg each month.
    • Change the texture of the mucous of the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter and reach any eggs that may have been released
    • Affect the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg will have a hard time attaching to the wall of the uterus
  • Your doctor or health care provider will tell you how to start and use the pill.

Where can I get the Pill?

  • You must get a prescription from a doctor or health clinic.

Are there any side effects?

  • Using the pill may cause some minor side effects such as:  nausea, breast tenderness, slight weight gain, spotting, moodiness, bloating or puffiness, mild headaches or fatigue. Minor side effects usually go way after using the pill for three months. If uncomfortable side effects continue, speak with a Public Health Nurse or your health care provider.

Serious side effects are rare. Seek medical attention right away if you have:
A bdominal pain (severe)                                                                                                    
C hest pain (severe), cough, shortness of breath
H eadaches (severe) or dizziness
E ye problems (blurred vision or loss of vision)
S evere leg pain (calf or thigh)
S peech problems

Smoking cigarettes and using the Pill will increase the risk of heart disease and stroke

What if I forget to take the Pill?

  • Take the forgotten pill as soon as you remember, then take the next pill at the usual time.
  • If you miss more than one pill, use condoms if you have sex during the seven days after you miss the pills and refer to the instructions that come with your pill product.
  • If you are unsure, check with your health care provider.

What if I miss my period?

  • If you forgot to take a pill and you miss your period, call the Sexual Health Clinic at the Brant County Health Unit to arrange a pregnancy test.
  • Continue taking the pill until pregnancy is confirmed.

When should I use backup protection?  

  • The pill does not provide any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Always use a latex condom when you have sex to reduce your risk of getting an STI or HIV infection.
  • You should also use a non-hormonal method of birth control , for 7 days to prevent pregnancy if:
  • You just started using the pill for the first time
  • You miss your pills any time  
  • You’re taking other medication, especially antibiotics
  • You are sick with vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • You have irregular bleeding during the first three weeks of each new package

What are the advantages of the Pill?   

  • The most effective form of birth control, when used perfectly
  • Helps make period lighter and more regular
  • Protects against certain cancers

What are the disadvantages of the Pill?      

  • Does not protect against STIs
  • You have to take it at the same time, everyday
  • May cause minor side effects
  • You should not use the pill if you smoke and/or you are over 35