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Oral Contraceptive Pill

Oral Contraceptive Pill

What is it?

The oral contraceptive pill is a hormonal birth control that has two types of hormones in it, estrogen and progesterone. It is the most common birth control used. When used perfectly it is 99% effective although with typical use it can be as low as 92% effective. The pill needs to be taken daily at the same time. It helps to set an alarm. Once you start taking the pill it takes 7 days for the pill to help prevent pregnancy unless you start on the first day of your menstrual period.  Use condoms during this week to prevent pregnancy. Pill packs are made up of hormonal pills and sometimes sugar pills to help you stay on track. If your pill pack does not have sugar pills be sure to know how many days you need to keep track of before starting the next package. If you miss any pills or have vomiting or diarrhea within 2 hrs of taking your pill follow instructions in the pill pack  or call us at the Youth Clinic (250)-383-3552 for instructions. You may need to take emergency contraception and have to use condoms for the rest of the pack.

How does it work?

This pill works by preventing the ovary from releasing an egg, thickening the cervical mucus making it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg, and changing the lining of the uterus making implantation difficult.


• Effective and reversible

• Does not interfere with intercourse

• Regulates menstrual cycle and reduces menstrual cramps

• Decreases acne and hirsutism

• Reduces the risks of endometrial and ovarian cancers

• Decreases premenstrual symptoms

• May be used continuously to miss periods


• Must be taken every day, at the same time

• May cause irregular bleeding or spotting

• May cause breast tenderness, nausea, or headaches, vaginal dryness, or decreased sex drive

• May increase the risk of blood clots, particularly in women who have certain blood disorders,  a family history of blood clots or migraines with focal neurological symptoms

• Call your doctor or go to the nearest medical treatment centre if you have any of the following symptoms of blood clots while taking birth control pills:

  • A – Abdominal pain, severe
  • C – Chest pain (severe), cough, or shortness of breath
  • H – Headache (severe) or increased frequency or intensity of headache, dizziness, weakness, or numbness
  • E – Eye problems: vision loss or blurring, speech problems
  • S – Severe leg pain in calf or thigh

• Effectiveness may be reduced by other medications:  Rifampin, Rifabutin, and Griseofulvin, some anti convulsants (Barbituates; Oxcarbazepine; Primidone; Phenytoin; Carbamazepine; Toprimate; Lamotrigine and Vigabatin), certain antiretroviral therapies, protease inhibitors, lamotrigine, and St. John’s Wort. Drospirenone containing oral CHCs can interact with other potassium-sparing drugs. Theophylline, tricyclic antidepressants, diazepam or lithium may need dosage adjustments.

• Should not be used by women over the age of 35 who smoke

• Does not protect against STIs

Combined Hormonal Contraceptives: Decision Support Tools (Feb 2014). College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. Publication 691.

Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill. Sexuality and U, SOGC. Retrieved October 2015.

Island Sexual health Society. Retrieved October 2015.

Contraceptive Use Among Canadian Women of Reproductive Age: Results of a National Survey (2009).

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Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island