aLife Singapore | Contraceptive Pills
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07 Apr Contraceptive Pills

To understand how oral contraceptive pill works, one has to understand how pregnancy comes about. Normally a woman becomes pregnant when an egg released from the ovary (ovulation) is fertilized by a man’s sperm during sexual intercourse. The fertilized egg then moves along the fallopian tube and attaches to the woman’s womb (implantation), where it receives nourishment and develops into a baby. Hormones in the woman’s body control the release of the egg from the ovary and prepare the womb to accept the fertilized egg.

The pill contains a small amount of artificial hormones. Some of these hormones prevent pregnancy by stopping the ovary from releasing the egg, while others work by making the lining of the womb too thick or too thin to accept the fertilized egg.

Side Effects

There are side effects associated with oral pills, a majority of which are minor. They include:

  • nausea
  • weight gain
  • sore or swollen breasts
  • small amount of blood, or spotting, between periods
  • lighter periods
  • mood changes

However, there may be rare serious side effects including disorders of the liver and gallbladder, stroke, blood clots, high blood pressure or heart disease and breast cancer. The patients may have the following symptoms:

  • abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • chest pain
  • headaches (severe)
  • eye problems (blurred vision)
  • swelling and/or aching in the legs and thighs

The pill can be taken safely by most women, but is not recommended for women who are over the age of 35 and smoke. In addition, the pill should not be taken in the following conditions:

  • blood clots
  • inflammation in the veins
  • serious heart or liver disease
  • unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • cancer of the breast or uterus

Mini Pills

These are pills that contain only one type of hormone called progestin. The hormone affects the secretion of the neck of the womb (cervix) by making it thick. This will then prevent the sperm from moving up the womb to reach the egg. The hormone in the pills also changes the lining of the uterus, so implantation of a fertilized egg cannot occur. In some cases, mini pills stop ovulation (the release of an egg).

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