How Do Birth Control Pills Work?

woman hand holding birth control pills close up

Birth control pills have a long history and are one of the most popular forms of contraception today. They are safe, reliable, and an easy way to prevent pregnancy and help with other issues women suffer from, like acne or heavy periods.

So, how do these tiny magical pills manage to impact our bodies so greatly?

Many women take the birth control pill every day without a second thought, not fully understanding how they work and how they affect their menstrual cycles and their bodies.

Here is some key information on how birth control pills work so you have a better understanding of your chosen form of contraception!

3 Ways the Pill Prevents Pregnancy

There are three ways the birth control pill can prevent pregnancy from occurring if taken as directed:

Prevents Ovulation  

One of the main ways the birth control pill works is by preventing ovulation during your monthly cycle. The pill prevents follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels from rising by inhibiting the natural hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. Without ample FSH, ovulation cannot occur. So, if the ovary does not release an egg, sperm cannot fertilize an egg to cause pregnancy. The pill may also make the fallopian tubes less likely to move an egg toward the uterus.

packages of birth control pills isolated on grey slate

Thickens Cervical Mucus

Cervical mucus is a viscous fluid found around the opening of the uterus. The pill makes cervical mucus thicker and stickier than normal, reducing the ability of sperm to pass through the cervix and reach the egg. Without the pill, the mucus thins when ovulation occurs, which makes it easier for sperm to pass through and provides them with a hospitable environment.

Thins the Endometrium

The final way the pill prevents pregnancy involves the endometrium, which is the uterine lining. Hormonal contraceptives thin the endometrium, making it far more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant. Without implantation, a fertilized egg cannot receive the nutrients and blood needed to survive and grow. Without the pill, the endometrium will thicken during ovulation, creating a place where a fertilized egg can implant and grow.

How to Make the Pill Work Best for You

If the birth control pill is your contraceptive of choice, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to take a combination or a progestin-only pill. These two types of birth control pills have different pros and cons and work to prevent pregnancy slightly differently. The answer as to which one is right for you will depend on what you want from your birth control pill.

Once you decide which type of pill is right for you, you need to devise a plan on how you will be responsible for remembering to take your pill every day. Forgetting pills, losing the pack, and not refilling your prescription on time are the main reasons why people might get pregnant when they use the pill. Planning and determining the best way to use the pill correctly for your lifestyle is essential to get the best results.

Reminder: The Pill Does NOT Protect Against STDs

Close-up Of A Woman's Hand Pulling Out Condom From Her Jeans Pocket

When used correctly, the pill is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy but 0% effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Using condoms helps protect against pregnancy and STDs, so using them with your birth control pill can help put your mind at ease.

Even if you use condoms, you should always get tested for STDs regularly to ensure the health and safety of you and your partners!

At South Avenue Women’s Services, we provide a host of well-woman care services, including sexually transmitted infections testinggynecological exams, and birth control. We offer affordable options for birth control pills and give you medical assistance and expertise to help you find the right prescription.

Prevent unplanned pregnancies with simple and effective contraceptives!

Make an appointment with us today at (585)271-3850 to get the information you need on your birth control options and learn about all the other services we offer women in the Rochester and Western NY area.