How Birth Control Pills Work (And Can a Man Take Birth Control Pills?) - Famasi Africa

Once sperm reaches an egg, it needs to penetrate the egg membrane. This is where birth control pills come into play — they stop immature eggs from being released from the ovaries, preventing ovulation.

How do birth control pills work?
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Preventing pregnancy is an essential aspect of adulthood, and different options are available as a method of birth control. One of them are birth control pills, and in this article, we'll discuss:

  • What birth control pills are,
  • How birth control pills work works,
  • The type of Pill available, and
  • Whether the Pill works for men.
what are birth control pills?
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Birth control pills are a type of hormonal birth control method. They contain hormones to prevent a woman from ovulating. The hormones estrogen and progesterone are essential for a woman's sexual and menstrual health.

Birth control pills can have laboratory-derived or synthetic forms of both hormones or only progesterone (progestin). Since there must be ovulation for a woman to be pregnant, it becomes impossible when the necessary process doesn't occur.

They're referred to as "the pill" due to their pill form and work differently depending on their composition. Regardless, it's essential to use your pills at the same time of day for the best results.

Like most other methods of contraception, birth control pills don't prevent sexually transmitted diseases as their sole purpose is to prevent pregnancy. Therefore, if you're in sexual contact with someone carrying a sexual disease, ensure you use a backup method like condoms.

A barrier method like the cervical cap or diaphragm also doesn't prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

How does a birth control pill work?
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Contraceptive pills are available in different forms, and they all work by tricking the body into thinking there's already a pregnancy; they prevent egg and sperm from meeting.

When you take birth control pills, they stop your ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation), or if you're a man, they block your sperm from fertilizing an egg (sperm fertilization).

The first step in preventing pregnancy is ensuring that sperm can't get to an egg. The process starts in the testicles or ovaries. Sperm cells begin at puberty and mature through two main stages: the acrosome (the head) and the tail. Once mature, a sperm cell has enough energy to swim up to an egg and fertilize it. If sperm doesn't reach an egg, there won't be any pregnancy.

Once sperm reaches an egg, it needs to penetrate the egg membrane. This is where birth control pills come into play — they stop immature eggs from being released from the ovaries, preventing ovulation.

The most common birth control pills are called a "combination" because they contain two hormones, estrogen, and progestin, to achieve pregnancy prevention. The other popular Pill is called "monophasic," which prevents ovulation only.

In addition, there are contraceptive pills that prevent ovulation but not fertilization; these are usually referred to as "copper IUDs" because of their copper content. The copper IUD doesn't have hormones and can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years.

Combination birth control pills work by lowering the levels of a hormone produced by the ovary that triggers ovulation. The Pill works by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary) while at the same time preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg.

While most birth control pills contain two types of estrogen and one type of progestin, they may also have more or less estrogen and progestin. There are oral contraceptives with different doses of estrogen and progestin, and these different combinations can allow for greater flexibility in how each Pill works.

The 28-day pill pack is common, but the main difference between it and the 21-day pack is the 7 inactive pills. The last pills in the 28-day pill pack are called "Placebo pills" because they're not active tablets or active pills. They help you not to fall off track till the following month.

On the other hand, the 21-day pill packs don't have inactive pills. The pack is a daily pill to be used for 3 weeks with no missed pill for the entirety of your dosage. You won't take any pill for the following 7 days.

If you have a health concern or an existing health condition, you should prioritize speaking with a health professional for maximum clarity.

Can a man use birth control pills?
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The truth is men and women can use birth control pills, but the actual question to ask is whether both sexes experience the same or similar effects. A man doesn't have fallopian tubes and doesn't experience a menstrual period. What would then result from taking oral contraceptive pills as a form of birth control?

Birth control pills aim to prevent ovulation and sperm fertilization. Since a man doesn't have the required hormone progesterone and estrogen for the pills to work, the effects aren't the same as what women experience.

There are even dangers of using the pills for prolonged periods, including medical conditions like enlargement of the breasts, shrinking the testicles, decreasing sex drive, and increased risk of having enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.

So, while there's ongoing effort to provide birth control pills for men as an effective method, kindly consider using the other birth control options such as condoms, vasectomy, outercourse, and withdrawal methods.

If you're interested in vasectomy but don't know where to start, Famasi can link you with a qualified health care provider.

What are the types of birth control pills?
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There are different kinds of birth control pills and they include:

  • Combination Pills
  • Progestin-only pills (mini-pill)

Combination pills.

The combined pill is the common type of oral contraceptive. These contain both estrogen and progestin, or synthetic progesterone. They're often called "low-dose pills" because they have the lowest levels of hormones, which makes them ideal for women who have blood pressure or cholesterol issues or who get migraines and other types of headaches.

Combination pills are also good choices for improvement in acne and other skin conditions because they contain estrogen and progestin. Combination pills can be monophasic, biphasic, multiphasic, or extended-cycle pills (continuous dosing).

Progestin-only pills (mini-pill).

This is another type of birth control pill. Progestin-only pills (mini - pills) are progestin-only birth control pills (POPs); they contain progestin but have no estrogen.

Progestins are similar to the natural female hormone, progesterone. Hence, progestin-only pills are suitable for breastfeeding women because they don't affect milk supply. Progestin also thickens the mucus on your cervix, making it hard for sperm to move around and reach an egg.

How does a birth control pill work in the body?
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The birth control pill is one of the available hormonal contraceptives. It's been around for over 50 years and has proven to be an effective hormonal method of contraception. They're a form of reversible contraception and contain hormones that work to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg) and other processes that lead to the fertilization of eggs. The Pill works as an oral contraceptive if you ever have unprotected sex.