Here are some frequently asked questions, and answers, on the subject of oral contraception for teenagers…
How Does it Work?
“The Pill” works in two different ways. One is to prevent ovulation (an egg being released from the ovary). The other is to thicken cervical mucus, preventing the egg and sperm from meeting.
How Do I Take The Pill?
Every day at the same time! To help you remember, try to take it the same time as something you do every day at the same time, such as brushing your teeth in the morning. Or you can set an alarm on your cell phone to help you remember.
Most pill packs contain 3 weeks of active pills and a 4th week of placebo (sugar) pills. After completing the 3 weeks of active pills, you will get your period.
Does The Pill Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Infections?
NO. It’s still necessary to use a barrier method like a condom to protect yourself from STIs.
How Effective is The Pill at Preventing Pregnancy?
When used correctly, VERY. Only 0.3 percent of people become pregnant with perfect use of the pill. The average rate, though, is 5% — because of forgetting to take more than 2 pills in the pack, or if pills are started too late in the menstrual cycle.
When Should I Start Taking My Pills?
IMMEDIATELY. We recommend the quick start method, which means you start them the day we prescribe them.
What are Some Advantages of Taking the Pill?
- Makes periods more regular
- Decreases menstrual flow
- Decreases cramps
- Can decrease acne
- Decreases risk of ovarian and uterine cancers
What are Some Things to Watch Out For?
If you’re having unprotected sex and do not take the pill every day without fail, you could become pregnant. (And, of course, you could also get a Sexually Transmitted Infection.)
Are There Side Effects?
There can be some, including nausea, bloating, breast tenderness, and depression. They often go away, but call us in the office if they become bothersome or persistent.
What Do I Do if I Miss a Pill?
Although it’s best if you take the pills at the same time each day, it’s not considered “missing” a pill unless you forget it for the entire day.
If you miss an “active” pill, you will need to use a back-up method of birth control for the rest of the month. If you forget your back-up method and have unprotected sex, you can use Plan B to prevent pregnancy as long as you take it within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
If you miss 1 pill, take it as soon as your remember. This means you can take 2 pills in one day.
If you miss 2 pills, take the first one as soon as you remember, and the second at the usual time. (You can take 2 pills in one day and 2 pills the next day).
If you miss 3 pills, you will get your period. Throw away the pack and start over.
If you miss a placebo pill during the 4th week (in other words, the week you get your period), don’t worry about it. Just stay on track with the pack, especially when it’s time to start the new pack.
Dr. Susan Stevens is a former Kids Plus Provider who co-developed our Puberty. Seriously? class for girls ages 9-12.