Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills

1.          What is the pill? What is COCP?
The pill is a birth control method consisting of synthetic hormones which are taken orally. It could be divided into 2 different types: i) Combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) which contains both oestrogen and progesterone hormones ii) Progesterone Only Pill (POP) which contains only the progesterone hormone.
2.         How does it prevent pregnancy?
  • Prevents ovulation
  • Reduces and thickens the cervical mucus making it more difficult for the sperm to enter the womb.
  • Reduces the chance of implantation by making the lining of the womb thin.
3.          How effective is the COCP?
With correct usage, the COCP is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
4.         What are the other benefits of taking the COCP besides providing contraception?
  • Improves your skin appearance. Could reduce your acne problems.
  • Makes your menstrual cycle regular.
  • Makes your menstrual flow lighter with less abdominal cramping.May improve the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome.
  • Reduces cysts on the ovaries, fibrocystic disease of the breast and endometriosis.
  • If used for many years, it could reduce your chances of developing cancer of the ovary and uterus.
5.          Are they any risks from taking COCP?You should not take COCP if you have a previous history of stroke, heart attack, poorly controlled diabetes or high blood pressure, migraine with aura, active liver or gall bladder disease and breast cancer.
  • Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, irregular vaginal bleeding and breast tenderness. However, these side effects tend to be temporary.
  • Increases the risk of developing blood clots in your legs: 2 in 10,000 women whom are COCP users will develop blood clots compared to 1 in 10,000 women who are non-COCP users.

6.          Would I gain weight from taking COCP?

Research has not shown that taking COCP increases the weight among its users. Some may perceived weight gain due to the fluid retention that is associated with COCP. Ask your doctor to prescribe a specific COCP which is associated with less fluid retention.
7.          How do I start taking the pill?
Follow the instructions provided by your doctor or inside the pill box. If you start on the first day of your menses, you will be protected immediately from getting pregnant. Take one tablet every day at the same time. Depending on the type of COCP, continue taking the pills until it is finishes. If it contains 21 tablets per box, you will need to take a 7 day break before continuing to the next box of pills. However, if there are 28 tablets, you do not need to take the 7 day break. You could continue with the next box of pills once you finish the first box.
8.      What precautions should I take to reduce the risk of getting pregnant on COCP?
  • Remember to take the pills every day.
  • Inform your doctor if he/she prescribes you medications such as certain antibiotics or anti-epileptic which could reduce affect the absorption of your COCP thus reduce its effectiveness.
  • If you have severe diarrhea / vomiting, it could affect the absorption of COCP from your gut. If you vomit within 2 hours of taking the COCP, try to take another one as soon as possible. If not, you may want to use other precautions such as abstinence or condom to protect yourself from getting pregnant in the meantime.
9.          What happens if I forgotten to take my pills?
This will reduce the effectiveness of the pills, increases the chances of pregnancy and may cause you to have irregular bleeding. If you forget to take one pill, take it as soon as you remember. If you have forgotten to take two or more pills, you should refrain from having sex or back up with other methods of contraception and contact your doctor.
10.        Is the COCP reversible?
Yes, it is reversible. Once you stop taking the pills, most women will start to ovulate within 4 – 6 weeks. If you do not have your menses within 2 – 3 months, see your doctor.


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