Contraceptive pills or COCP-Combined oral contraceptive pills are tablets that have to be consumed daily to prevent pregnancy. These act as a
very effective birth control method. As the name suggests, the pill includes a combination of two hormones estrogen and progestogen (progestin). There are pills containing
only progestin, which are known as ‘mini pills.’
The hormones in these pills suppress the release of
gonadotropins, thereby preventing ovulation. Their basic mode of action is by inhibition of follicular development. Estrogen can stabilize the endometrium and greatly
decrease the release of Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which facilitates follicular development and induces ovulation.
Progestin also inhibits the penetration of the sperms through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tube by increasing the viscosity of the cervical
mucus. Some drugs like rifampicin, barbiturates, phenytoin, and carbamazepine are responsible for reducing the efficacy of this pill and increasing the chances of
conception. Sometimes antibiotics, such as ampicillin and doxycycline can also interfere with the working of the pill.
These pills come as 21-pill packets or 28-pill packets, which should be taken at a fixed time every day. If you forget to take a pill someday, then
two pills should be taken together the next day. Usually, the pills have to be taken for three weeks daily. While those on the 21-day pill packet take the pill for 3 weeks and
then take a break for a week, those using the 28-day pill packet have placebo or sugar pills in the fourth week. Withdrawal bleeding occurs during this no pill or placebo
week, confirming that the woman is not pregnant.
Most women have no side-effects when taking the oral
contraceptive pill, but some cases have been reported where the women were found to suffer from irregular periods, nausea, headache, or weight change. People with a past
history of blood clots, migraine, heart disease, high blood pressure, and jaundice during pregnancy should avoid consuming these pills. Before taking any decision, proper
guidance should be sought from a health expert.