When we talk about birth spacing and the methods of birth spacing, the first and foremost method to flash in every woman’s mind is the use of oral contraceptive pills or the OCPs. They are available various names and brands.
What Are OCPs?
OCPs are the pills or tablets which contain synthetic hormones namely oestrogen and progestin or progestin alone. Oestrogen and progestin are the female reproductive hormones which help to maintain the rhythm of menstrual cycle and helps in ovulation that is the release of the eggs from the ovaries. When the OCPs are taken regularly they interfere either with the ovulation or hinder the sperm from reaching the eggs and thereby prevent pregnancy.
Types Of OCP’s:
The combination pills- contain both estrogen and progesterone
Progestin only pills
How To Take:
Generally a strip of OCPs contain 28 tablets where 21 tablets are the hormonal ones and the remaining 7 are the placebos. You should start taking your tablet from the first day of your periods. Take one tablet a day daily without break and possibly at the same time. If you forgot to take a pill in the morning you can take it any time during the day. Do not double the dose. If you forget to take the pills for more than 3 days in a row then be cautious and add on other methods of contraception.
Who Can Take OCPs?
Any non pregnant lady who decides to space her pregnancies can take the pills.
Who Should Not Take?
Do not take the combination pills if:
You have to stay in bed for a long time as this may increase the chances of venous thrombosis- a condition where there may be formation of blood clots in the leg veins which when dislodged may prove life threatening.
Must have uncontrolled elevated blood pressure
Have hereditary disorders related to blood clotting
Should not have uncontrolled diabetes
Have had previous attack of angina, stroke or valve replacements
Have elevated liver enzymes values
Should be under 35 years of age
If you suffer from any of the above said conditions you can better opt for other methods of contraception.
Side Effects of OCPs:
General side effects include:
Nausea and vomiting
Breast tenderness and heaviness
Break through periods or bleeding in between periods
Severe side effects like venous thrombosis may occur in a few patients on the combination pills.
Breast-feeding and OCPs:
It is always better to avoid OCPs while breast feeding as they may suppress the milk production (oestrogen in the combined pills) and also the unknown effects on the breast fed baby in the long run.
Efficacy Of OCPs:
No method of contraception is 100% successful. Each has its own pros and cons. However the usage of pills has a far reduced chance of failure rate. The efficacy of OCPs increases if they are regularly taken and the efficacy are double folded if practiced along with another method of contraception.
Always consult your gynaecologist before taking OCPs. She will be the better person to guide you to choose the right OCPs for you. Inform your gynaecologist, if you are on other drugs as those drugs may interfere with the efficacy of pills and vice versa.