Moms all have our own priorities in life. Some place their careers at the forefront, some are passionate about their hobbies while others are excited about starting a family. Some women want kids early, while some want to delay this for a few years. Then there are the ones who don't want any kids at all. Women resort to various methods to prevent getting pregnant. Of all of the contraception methods, the pill is the most popular and is believed to be the most effective.
Whatever priorities we have or choices we make, pregnancy plays a crucial role in a woman’s life. Can we brush it off as just a 9-month engagement? I don’t think so! Pregnancy is the start of a lifelong responsibility.
No wonder women rely heavily on ‘Family Planning’! Yes, no doubt, it is crucial for your career, your children’s health, and more than that, your OWN health! Among the options of contraceptives, the easiest one which is widely acclaimed by women all across the world is any form of oral contraceptives or birth control pills. We blindly believe that these tiny pills provide the strongest protection barrier.
Dear fellas, how many of you know the naked truth and pitfalls of these pills? For your knowledge, no contraceptive is utterly foolproof and the pill is no different. Many women find themselves pregnant despite being on the pill!
What are the actions that make the pill ineffective and more importantly, what can we do to ensure they are effective? Here are 15 vital points you should know about getting pregnant on the pill.
15 You Can Get Pregnant Even When Using The Pill Properly
Between 2 and 8 percent of women become pregnant each year while using it. With typical use, birth control is about 91 percent effective. The FDA allows for a 15 percent variation in generic medications. Again this is a concern because the pills are now so low-dose. So women should be especially cautious.
Your odds of getting pregnant while on birth control depends on the type of birth control that you are using, as well as how you are using that birth control. Assuming that you are taking your birth control exactly as it has been prescribed to you, you will only have a one in 1000 chance of getting pregnant, or a 0.1 percent chance.
Remember, the birth control pill is only 99.9 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, and even that is only IF you take it exactly as your doctor recommends.
14 Drinking The Mommy Juice
The good news is that alcohol doesn’t have a direct effect on how your birth control works. The bad news is that the effects of alcohol can increase your risk of birth control failure. If you are drinking heavily the chances are high that you’ll forget to take your medicine on time. If you take your medicine in the morning and you were drinking the night before, you could sleep through the time you normally take it. Missing a pill might put you at risk.
The hormones in birth control reduce your liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol. This can lead to high blood alcohol levels and may increase your level of intoxication. Your risk of getting sick could also increase. If you become sick from drinking and vomit within two hours of taking your pill, your body discards the pill. This could again put you at risk!
Drink less to avoid getting sick. Also, set extra reminders for yourself, like on your phone or another device, to avoid forgetting to take your pill. If you do miss taking a pill, use a backup form of birth control, such as a rubber, during intimate sessions for at least a month.
13 Not Taking It At The Same Time Every Day
You probably know that the pill has hormones to keep you from getting pregnant. Most of the versions have a combination of estrogen and progesterone. Some pills have more estrogen in them than others. Though having fewer hormones sounds like a good thing - and it mostly is - you should know the drawbacks when you’re weighing your choices.
When the pill first came out in the 1960s, it had 150 micrograms of estrogen. Many side effects of those pills were obvious, and that formula was soon taken off the market. Later, the highest dose available was 50 micrograms of estrogen, but even that is not being prescribed anymore.
Modern pills are often referred to as “low-dose” pills. They contain about 20 micrograms of estrogen, which is less than half of the 50 or 150 micrograms pills once contained. Because of this, the modern pill relies heavily on timing. That means you need to take it at the exact same time every day for it to be effective.
12 Using St. John’s Wort
Does the name remind you of a saint? Well, it is actually a herbal supplement often used to treat mild depression. It is also a popular over-the-counter herbal supplement that can affect liver metabolism. Please keep in mind that once you take something that affects the liver, you are weakening the effects of the pill.
St John’s Wort is one which is not recommended for use concurrently with the OCP, this is because they are both absorbed through the same enzyme pathways in the liver. This, in turn, means that the effectiveness of the OCP may be diminished.
The UK Medicinal Products and Healthcare Regulatory Agency has previously warned women taking hormonal contraceptives to avoid the supplement. According to Andrew Weil, founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, "If you are taking any prescription drug and are interested in trying a course of St. John's Wort for mild to moderate depression, first discuss possible interactions with your doctor or pharmacist."
11 The Up Chuck
Digestion times vary, it differs from body to body. But at five hours, the pill should have moved on out of your stomach. The safest advice is that if you are vomiting while on the pill, continue to take it as you have been instructed, but use an additional form of protection (condoms or abstinence) until you are back on track.
If you vomit within a couple of hours of taking the birth control pill, the pill will not have lasted long enough in your system to be absorbed and you will not be protected. Make sure to use the backup method for at least a week after the vomiting or diarrhea subsides.
Laxative supplements such as psyllium may interfere with the body’s ability to absorb the pill by speeding up digestion. But it is not recommended to take laxative supplements on a daily basis. You should wait a few hours after taking the pill before taking this type of supplement.
10 Drinking Detox Teas
You may think that detox teas and laxatives don't belong in the same category here, but they both have the same effect on the pill. Detox teas are highly thought to flush the body of toxins - in slightly more precise words, they make you pass your stool more.
Laxatives also have the same functionality which is used to treat constipation. As pointed out above, diarrhea or going to the toilet frequently can stop the pill from being effective. It has been reported that a number of women have gotten pregnant while drinking the popular Bootea detox tea. The reason is that unfortunately, the tea can have a laxative effect, which can affect the pill’s effectiveness.
Anything that stops the pill from reaching the small intestine before it is absorbed (like vomiting), or that moves it through the intestine too quickly (like diarrhea) will lower protection. So the best option is to count at least 12 hours between taking your daily pill and using any kind of detox/laxative product. This will definitely help you stay on course.
9 Not Taking The Placebo Pills
Should I take the last week of birth control pills in my monthly pack? The answer comes down to how well you can stay on schedule without that last week of pills. For your info, these are placebo pills, and they aren’t used for preventing pregnancy. Instead, the pills allow you to see your monthly visitor while staying on track with your daily pill. Surprised?
Many combination birth control pills come in 28-day packs. The schedule is three weeks of active pills that contain the hormone or hormones necessary to prevent pregnancy and a fourth week of inactive sugar pills or placebos. Placebo pills are placeholders meant to help you stay on track by taking one pill every day until the next month starts. The idea is that if you stay in the habit of taking a pill every day, you’ll be less likely to forget when you need to take the real thing.
The placebos also make sure that Aunt Flo is less painful than normal. Placebos keep you on track, preventing pregnancy, so missing them might result in higher risk of getting pregnant.
8 Missing A Dose
Worse than not taking the pill at the same time every day is missing a day. The golden rule is, once you miss one pill, you should double up. If you just missed one, take it as soon as you remember. If you are more forgetful and don't remember until the next day, go ahead and take two pills that day. Furthermore, if you forget to take your pills for two days, take two pills the day you remember and two pills the next day. You will then be back on schedule.
Still, if you have missed a pill and had an unprotected session, there is still a chance you could become pregnant even if you follow these instructions exactly. You may need to use a backup method of birth control such as a condom or abstain from doing the deed for seven days or longer after you miss your pill.
7 Stomach Problems?
Like any other medicine, birth control pills need time to get absorbed and have its effect! Birth control pills, which are taken orally, take longer to work than birth control patches or injections because the pill must be digested and the hormones absorbed into the blood. The pill first must move towards the stomach, then possibly into the intestine, where it will be absorbed through the lining into the bloodstream.
If you have diarrhea, it may reduce the retention period of hormones in the stomach and lower the absorption rate. Generally, if a woman takes her birth control pill and has diarrhea, the pills are washed out in no time. It's likely that the pill wasn't given enough time to get into her system. Full absorption usually takes between two and three hours. So the net result is being prepared to hear the ‘good news’ at any time, as there is a high risk of getting pregnant.
6 Storing The Pack At A High Temperature
Medications should always be stored in a cool, dry place away from heat, whatever it may be. The same rule is applied for the birth control pill too. They need to be stored safely to maintain their effectiveness. Extreme temperatures can lower the effectiveness of the contraceptive. It is not a good idea to keep your birth control pills in your car, in your purse, or in the bathroom.
It is important to always store the birth control pills in an environment that is not very humid and less than 77 degrees at all times. If the pills are stored somewhere where it is greater than 77 degrees for any length of time, they will begin to degrade and will not be effective in preventing a pregnancy. Constantly fluctuating temperatures can also cause a problem. So the solution is to store your pills in a hall or kitchen cabinet. Choose a cabinet that is both dry and at a safe temperature, so no kitchen cabinets directly above the stove.
5 When You're Just Starting Out
Ladies, please, don't get tricked into thinking that you can have unprotected fun times the very same day that you start taking the pill. You should always be aware of where you are in your monthly cycle when you start taking it.
If your period has just finished, then you are good to go as the pill will stop you ovulating again. But if you are in the middle of your cycle and want to start taking the pill, then you will have to use another extra form of protection for at least seven days to give it time to work.
If you randomly pick a day and start taking the pill, you may already have ovulated and may become pregnant, even though you have started taking the pill. That first cycle on the pill can be tricky, so you have to use a barrier method to carry you through the first cycle of the birth control pill.
4 Certain Kinds Of Medication
Family planning is of great importance to women with epilepsy because women with epilepsy are more likely than women in the general population to have babies with congenital malformations such as abnormal development of the face, brain, heart or other organs. Neurological medication, especially seizure medications like Dilantin and carbamazepine, may reduce the effectiveness of the pill. The combined use of birth control pills (oral contraceptive pills, OCPs) and some antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may have an important effect on the serum concentrations of both the birth control hormones and the antiepileptic drugs.
Higher dose, rather than the lower dose modern formulation, pills have been recommended for women with epilepsy who take enzyme-inducing AEDs, especially if they experience irregular cycles and breakthrough bleeding on the birth control pill. There is are concerns, however, that the potential benefit of increasing oral contraceptive pill (OCP) dosage on menstrual cycle control and risk of ovulation must be weighed against the potential adverse effects of these higher dosages on serum AED levels, seizures and potential OCP side effects such as blood clots.
3 Interacting With Hormones
Although there is no firm scientific evidence, it is recommended that foods and herbs that are high in phytoestrogens (plant-based substances that mimic estrogen in the body), can interact with the pill. These include soy and herbs like maca, sage, and licorice which have hormone modulating effects. There are possibilities that the medications or supplements purported to affect hormone function, such as Vitex (a herb) and Black Cohosh, may interact with the pill.
More research is needed into how herbal supplements interact with pharmaceutical drugs, as these products become more popular. Many people mistakenly believe they are harmless because they are “natural”, but it is important to consult with a medical professional before taking these types of supplements. Dietary fiber such as slippery elm, psyllium, guar gum, apple pectin, wheat bran, flax seed oil and oat bran may have an effect on decreasing the absorption of the oral contraceptive pill by speeding up its passage through digestion.
2 Antibiotics Can Be A Problem
It is not a secret that some antibiotics can stop the pill from working. The antibiotics Rifampicin and Rifabutin, which are used to treat illnesses like tuberculosis and meningitis, can conflict with the pill. These antibiotics are rare, so it probably is not something to panic about.
Rifampin and Griseofulvin cause the enzymes in the liver to increase the breakdown of estrogens and thereby decrease the levels of estrogens in the body and thus the effectiveness of the pills. This can result in an unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, individuals taking birth control pills should use a second method of contraception when taking these antibiotics or other drugs that can increase the breakdown of estrogens.
Theoretically, antibiotics can kill the bacteria that convert the inactive chemicals to the active estrogen, thus lowers the level of estrogen in your body. It is better to be safe than sorry, so it is advised to use alternative methods of birth control while taking antibiotics.
1 Taking A Generic Form Of The Pill
Generic pills may save you money, but the common belief is that they do not contain the same amount of hormones as their name-brand counterparts. Women also complain that they had a different side effect profile or problems with breakthrough bleeding when they were switched to a generic version of a BCP.
Some of the most frequent complaints include: acne, headaches, worsened moods and increasing weight gain. You should be especially cautious and use a back-up, such as a rubber, if you are put on any medication that may interfere with the pill.
Quality should take priority over quantity, in every aspect of your life. The consequences of trying to save a few pennies can turn out to be quite costly in the long run. Pregnancy, childbirth, and abortions all have high costs - both financially and emotionally!
References: healthline.com, thesun.co.uk, foxnews.com, womhealth.org.au
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