This scene might sound familiar to you…
You visit the doctor with the intention of going onto some form of contraception. There are so many options and information out there that you’re not too sure which method is best for you nor what the differences are. The doctor takes your blood pressure, asks about your medical and sexual history and what contraception you currently use.
After asking a few more questions they ruffle around in their desk drawer and hand you a pamphlet about the Oral Contraceptive Pill, also known as the Pill. You trust the doctor, so you don’t ask about other options, you just take the script and go.
The Pill is the most common method of contraception in Australia, followed by the condom, and then vasectomies. The Pill is a hormonal birth control method which is taken daily in tablet form. It comprises the hormone’s progesterone and estrogen, which are naturally occurring in the body. By taking the Pill daily, these two hormones prevent your body from making and releasing an egg each month, thereby circumventing any pregnancy.
The Pill also thickens the fluid around the cervix which prevents sperm from entering the uterus. The Pill’s use follows a normal menstrual cycle, with the oral contraceptive pill taken daily for three weeks, this is followed by one week of sugar pills (placebo pills). The sugar pills trigger bleeding, this is not your real period but instead breakthrough bleeding which is induced by a drop in the hormones. When you are on the Pill you don’t menstruate naturally because there is no uterus lining to shed due to the absence of ovulation.
Taken the way it should, the Pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. But many of us know that human error means it’s hard to take it the way you should every day. Also, if you miss a Pill, vomit within two hours of taking it, have severe diarrhoea or take certain medication, such as antibiotics, the effectiveness can decrease to 93%.