Despite the fact that five years ago my birth control almost killed me, I am still super pro-pill. I now live the luxury that is life with an IUD, but a lot of women are not ready for one or are scared to get them. I understand that and getting an IUD was not the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, but it was totally worth it. For me.
I took various birth control pills over the course of about seven years. The only one I had an issue with was Yaz because well, having a pulmonary embolism at eighteen kind of puts a damper on things. I don’t share that story to scare anyone, like Slate magazine thinks. I share it because it’s important to know what birth control pills can do to you. The fact is that Yaz’s high risks are terrifying and nearly ended my life. But I would never tell a woman not to go on birth control. Instead, I would tell every woman to be aware of the risks, to know that you are not invincible and to err on the side of caution when choosing a pill.
That said, if you’re thinking about going on the pill, here are 10 things you need to know:
You Have To Take It On Time
Birth control pills aren't just something you can take whenever because the timing matters. You have to take your pill on time every day! When you take the pill late, it increases your chances of getting pregnant. The later you take it, the less effective it is. The best way to remember to take it is to start taking the pill at a time that works for you. Maybe it's noon everyday, maybe it's right after dinner when you brush your teeth. If you need a reminder, set an alarm on your phone.
The Placebo Pills Are When You Get Your Period
Most birth control pills come with placebo or sugar pills. This is the week where you have your period. Taking those pills is helpful because it keeps you in the habit of taking your pill at the same time. They don't do anything to your body. If you want to skip your period, you can by simply starting your next pack instead of taking the placebo pills. However, a lot of doctors advise against this. Some advise that it's okay. The safest thing to do is to talk to your doctor about it because all pills are different.
It Does Not Protect Against STDs
I know a lot of people who think birth control pills are also STD-protection pills, and this could not be more false. Birth control pills do not protect against any STDs. Not one. They offer literally zero protection against STDs so you still need to use condoms!
You Don't Have To Be Sexually Active To Be On The Pill
There's this totally ignorant misconception that every girl on the pill is some rampant sex freak. Obviously, that is not true. I started taking the pill when I first got my period and was not having sex because my cramps were horrible and my period was super irregular. There are a million reasons to take the pill besides being sexually active.
Always Talk To Your Doctor
Since you need a prescription, you have to talk to your doctor. But do not be afraid to ask questions and really delve into the topic of birth control. They are there to help you so while they may suggest one type of pill, ask them to compare it with others so you have more information.
It Takes Time To Work
Unfortunately, when you pop that first pill, your body doesn't immediately become unable to get pregnant. Birth control pills take time to work. Like 1-2 months. It's important while you're waiting for it to really kick in to be extra careful if you're sexually active. Also, if you're switching between pills, the same concept applies.
The Pill Reacts With Other Medications
If you take other medications or go on antibiotics, it can make the pill less effective. Make sure you share what medications your on with your doctor, no matter what they are. If you take medication regularly, there might be a pill that reacts better with your medication than another.
Every Pill Has Side Effects, But Every Pill Is Different
Every single birth control pill has side effects. Not every birth control pill will agree with every woman. I have a friend who had zero side effects from her pill, but another friend took the same one after hearing how great it was and had miserable cramps and was so moody all the time. If one pill worked for every woman, that's all we would have. But that's not how birth control works, and it's up to you and your doctor to figure out what does and does not work for you.
Some Have Risks Greater Than Others
Some pills like Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella have higher risks of blood clots and other more serious side effects. This doesn't mean they don't work, but you need to be aware of the risks if you decide to take a high-risk pill.
You Need To Listen To Your Body
Birth control pills are great, but they do carry risks and the wrong pill can make you feel really crappy. The most important thing you need to do is listen and pay attention to your body. If you feel like something is wrong, don't ignore it. If you feel like the pill you're on isn't working for you, talk to your doctor. Your body will tell you what's going on with it, and it's up to you to listen.
Are you taking birth control pills? Are you scared of birth control? Tell us in the comments!