Oral Contraceptives: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects
Last Updated: Sep 20, 2023
What is the treatment?
Oral contraceptive pills are medications that prevents unwanted pregnancy. Oral contraceptives are hormonal preparations that may contain a combination of hormones oestrogen and progesterone or progesterone alone. When given in certain amounts and at certain times during the menstural cycle, these hormones prevent the ovary from releasing an egg for fertilization.
How is the treatment done?
Oral contraceptives have many effects that can prevent an unwanted pregnancy from taking place but the main action of these pills is- it stops a woman’s egg from fully developing each month. Thus the egg can no longer accept a sperm and as a result fertilization is prevented. Pills which contain a combination of oestrogen and progesterone prevent pregnancy by inhibiting the release of the hormones luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland in the brain. Luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone help in the development of egg and preparation the lining of uterus for the implantation of the embryo. Progesterone also functions as the hormone which makes the uterine mucus that surrounds the egg and make it more difficult for the sperm to penetrate the egg and therefore or fertilization to take place. In some women, progesterone also inhibits ovulation. There are different types of combination birth control pills- monophasic, biphasic, triphasic. Most birth control pills are packaged as 21-day or 28-day units. For the 21-day packages, tablets are taken daily for 21 days. This is followed by a seven day period during which no pills are taken. Then the cycle repeats. For 28-day units, medication is taken for 21 consecutive days, followed by a seven day period during which placebo tablets are taken. Women just starting to take the pills should also use additional contraception for the first seven days of use because pregnancy may occur during this period.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Women who smoke and especially those who are over thirty five years of age and women with certain medical conditions like history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer, are advised against taking oral contraceptive pills as these conditions can increase the risks of the pills.
Are there any side effects?
The most common side effects of birth control pills are nausea, headache, breast tenderness, weight gain, irregular bleeding and mood alterations. Women with a history of migrane may suffer increased migrane frequency. Oral contraceptives may also aggravate insulin resistance and thus pose a risk of diabetes. Though uncommon, oral contraceptives can lead to increase in blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
There are no such post treatment guidelines.
How long does it take to recover?
A combined pill is packaged in either 21 day or 28 days everyday pack.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Some pills usually cost more than thousand rupees. While some may cost hundred rupees. Cost depends on the type of pills used. Many health clinics sell these birth control pills for less amount.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
The birth control pills work when taken at the right time and right amount for the prevention of pregnancy. So, the result of taking the pills will be as desired.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Women can use some other ways of preventing pregnancy such as the injection known as Depo Provera which is injected every three months. Women can also use vaginal ring known as Nuvaring, that is squeezed and placed in the vagina for three weeks and is taken out for a week during periods and then replaced with a new ring. Women can also use hormone UID and copper UID.
- Estrogen and Progestin (Oral Contraceptives)- Medline Plus, Drugs, Herbs and Supplements, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 21 August 2019]. Available from:
- Progestin-Only Oral Contraceptives- Medline Plus, Drugs, Herbs and Supplements, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 21 August 2019]. Available from:
- Haracz JM. Making OTC Oral Contraceptives Available for All Women. AJN The American Journal of Nursing. 2019 Aug 1;119(8):11. [Cited 21 August 2019]. Available from:
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