What are the benefits of oral contraceptives? In addition to being highly effective, it is convenient and easy to use. Pill users are also protected from severe pelvic infections and other diseases. What’s more, the pill decreases menstrual cramps and blood loss.
“If you want to begin taking the pill, you will need a prescription from your physician. Begin taking the pill on the fifth day of your period. Get in the habit of taking your pill at the same time every day to lessen the chance that you will forget to take one. You continue to take a pill for 21 days, after which you do not take one for seven days. About three days after you take the last pill your period will start,” said Dr. David E. Larson, editor-in-chief of the “Mayo Clinic Family Health Book.”
“Note, however, that some prescriptions come in packages with 21 pills that contain hormones and seven pills that have no active ingredient; thus, the daily pattern of taking a pill is not interrupted. You simply finish one package and start another the following day. Sometimes a woman will not have a period. If this happens to you, simply begin your new pills one week after you finish the previous pack. If you miss a second period, consult your physician,” Larson added.
When it first hit the market in the early 1960s, the pill was welcomed with open arms. It gave women the chance to enjoy sex without being bothered by unwanted pregnancies. That meant a new kind of sexual freedom for users and the ideal solution to the growing population problem. But the idealism soon changed when researchers linked this birth control method to serious problems.
“Women’s confidence didn’t shatter until the mid-1970s, when the immunity barrier crumbled and the public finally realized that oral contraceptives were causing women to suffer strokes, blood clots and heart attacks.
“Paul Rheingold, a New York litigation attorney who represented many women in pill-related lawsuits, vividly remembers the days when he was getting many calls about women who were suffering from strokes related to pill use. Rheingold said it was hard to keep Sonus Complete up with for a while. An entire litigation industry was spawned over the pill and how it was killing women,” revealed Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe and the Public Citizen Health Research Group in “Women’s Health Alert.”
With that terrible news, sales dropped and for a while it seemed that the pill would never recover. Bit it did and has since made a comeback. By the 1980s, women were again back on the pill and it remains the most widely used contraceptive among married and unmarried women.
What went wrong with the early pills? The high hormone doses in the previous formulas made the pill an effective contraceptive but it was also giving women heart attacks and strokes. Manufacturers have since reduced hormone levels in most pills. This has reduced the risks associated with the old pills.
“The quantities of hormones in the early pills were safe in test animals, but too often lethal in humans. With hormone levels in the pill now much lower, the number of women suffering from heart attacks and strokes also appears to have dropped,” Wolfe said. (Next: Does the pill cause cancer?)