July 7th, 2010
By Dr Vijay V. Shah
While there are several contraception options available to women, it is important to make an informed choice before you decide to pop any pill to prevent getting pregnant. In addition to what kind of pill you should take, you need to be aware of the process involved in taking the pill, when to take it, when to stop and when to continue.
Contraceptive pills are available as OTC (over the counter) drugs and a doctor’s prescription is not mandatory. Commonly used contraceptive pills are Yasmin, Loette, Femilon, Diana-35 and Ovral-L. A recommended progesterone-only pill is Zerogen, which can even be used by women who are breast-feeding. Another form of contraception, which is more an emergency option and should not be taken often and at random, is the morning-after pill. These pills are safe and effective if taken within the first 72 hrs of having sex. They are a better option than abortion.
It must be kept in mind that if a woman has been using pills regularly, but wants to get pregnant, she should wait for a month after she stops taking the contraceptive and then try to conceive. However, if she gets pregnant within a month, it is perfectly healthy as well.
Know the facts
Contraceptive pills are not just taken to avoid a pregnancy; women even take such pills to delay their period in case they have to travel or for religious purposes, etc. However, oral contraception pills can be taken for postponement of periods if there is no gynaecological pathology and the woman is not pregnant. In addition, there should be no unexplained bleeding or other conditions like thrombosis, breast cancer, ovarian tumour, etc.
Oral contraceptives are combination pills that have both oestrogen and progesterone hormones. To postpone periods temporarily, one should use a progesterone-only pill. Oestrogen found in the combination pill has more side effects (nausea, vomiting, mood swings, weight gain, tenderness in the breasts, etc.) than a progesterone-only pill, which has minimal side effects — mild spotting and water retention. The progesterone pill should be taken five to seven days before the expected period date. Once you stop using the pill you get your period within three to seven days. Using the pill for postponement of periods is safe though haphazard usage can disturb the natural cycle.