How Safe Are Birth Control Pills?
These days, gynaecologists are mostly inundated with questions on how to prevent or postpone pregnancy. Couples often want to know about the various options of using different methods of contraception for family planning and invariably, the topic moves to the issue of oral contraceptive pills and its side effects.
The Oral Contraceptive Pill
A birth control or oral contraceptive pill (called OCPS) Is one of the most widely accepted means of contraception. These pills aid in suppressing ovulation and changes the cervical mucosa which makes it difficult for the sperm to gain entry. The inner uterine lining called the endometrium too, is altered to prevent implantation (If at all fertilisation does happen). Thus, all these three levels act as barriers for pregnancy. Oral contraceptive pills are hormonally-mediated as they contain synthetic oestrogen and progesterone derivatives in various formulations. These are taken In fixed doses of oestrogen-progesterone combinations or phasic combinations together, known as combined oral contraception or only progestin pills (at a microdose). These pills, when prescribed, have to be taken without skipping doses as any missed doses may allow ovulation to happen and risk contraceptive failure.
Women with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer have a small increased risk of developing breast tumours with the use of oral contraceptive pills
Side Effects Of The Pill
Common side effects of these pills include nausea, a feeling of abdomen bloating, occasional headache and breast pain, with some patients complaining of weight gain too. There are also significant risks of using oral contraceptive pills for individuals with certain conditions and among those prohibited, are individuals with a history of stroke or venous thrombosis, migraine with aura, hypertension, women who smoke and over the age of 35 years, patients with conditions like high triglyceride levels, active liver disease, abnormal uterine bleeding. patients on anti-epilepsy medication and patients with oestrogen related tumours.
In addition to the above, the use of oral contraceptives in susceptible patients may relatively Increase the risk of coronary diseases, hypertension, stroke and venous thromboembolism, although the absolute risk Is still low. Women with a genetic predisposition to breast cancer have a small increased risk of developing breast tumours with the use of oral contraceptive pills. On the other hand, use of oral contraceptive pills has been known to reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Oral contraceptive pills for family planning must be a judicious choice of individuals who are likely to benefit more and no experience adverse effects or risks later in life