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9 Facts About Birth Control Pills

From different brands to different types of birth control pills, women today have many options when it comes to choosing an oral contraceptive that is right for their needs. 

Modern oral contraceptives have been around for decades and the industry has seen some unique innovations, such as pills that contain less estrogen to products like Slynd‘s estrogen-free pill featuring a 24-hour dosage window. 

In this article, let’s take a look at some fun and interesting facts about birth control pills!

1. What’s the difference between a combination pill (combined oral contraceptive or COC) vs. a mini-pill?

A combination pill has both estrogen and progestin. These are hormones that prevent pregnancy. A mini-pill or “POP” are pills that only contain progestin. For some women who are at a higher risk of developing blood clots or are breastfeeding, an estrogen-free pill may be the better choice. Learn more in our article, What’s the difference between progestin and estrogen in birth control pills?

2. The effectiveness of a birth control pill may be impacted by your weight. 

Women with a higher BMI greater than 27.3 have a 60% higher chance of getting pregnant when taking the pill.2 Of course, this doesn’t mean they can’t take oral contraceptives. Certain progestin-only pills may be a more effective option when compared to oral contraceptives that contain estrogen. For example, Slynd® is an estrogen-free pill that doesn’t have an upper BMI listed on its label and can be an effective choice for some women.

3. Did you know that the pill was approved by the FDA in 1960?

While an application was submitted in 1959, the FDA didn’t make a decision right away. The issue wasn’t about safety, but the revolutionary concept of the pill itself. If the pill was approved, this would make it the first case where the drug’s purpose wasn’t to target a health concern, but rather it was meant to be used in a more social context.3 Eventually, the first oral contraceptive was approved for use in 1960 but initially, it was only available for limited use of no longer than two years at a time. The reason for this limitation was because regulators didn’t yet fully understand the long-term safety of taking the pill.

4. How exactly does a morning-after pill work? 

The morning-after pill is another type of oral contraceptive. However, unlike combination pills and mini-pills, the morning-after pill isn’t meant to be taken as the primary birth control option. Instead, it’s used in emergencies as a backup when your primary birth control method has failed, such as a broken condom or forgetting to take your pill on time. The morning-after pill works by delaying or preventing ovulation but doesn’t stop a pregnancy if a fertilized egg has implanted.4

Common side effects of the morning-after pill include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, breast pain or tenderness, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and bleeding between periods.

5. For women, the pill is one of the most common forms of birth control.

In a 2017-2019 study that looked at popular forms of contraception in the U.S. among women aged 15-49, female sterilization ranked #1 at 18.1%, while oral contraceptives came in at #2 at 14%.5 The study found that as women get older, pill usage generally decreases while female sterilization increases. 

6. Oral contraceptives weren’t legally available to everyone until the 1970s.

Remember how we said the FDA approved the pill in 1960? Well, it was primarily available for married couples and laws were still in place that prevented the pill from being prescribed to single women. Eventually, a case arguing against this unequal treatment was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, which paved the way for the pill to be available to everyone regardless of their marital status.6

7. Could oral contraceptives reduce the risk of cancer?

While the majority of research has come from observational studies which means a definitive link cannot be determined, they do provide consistent evidence that suggests women who take the pill have a 30% decreased risk of endometrial cancer, a 30-50% decreased risk of ovarian cancer, and a 15-20% decreased risk of colorectal cancer.7

Woman check a bottle of medicine on cellphone and sitting on a couch

To learn more, click here.

8. Just like other medication, birth control pills have an expiry date

When taking your pill, be sure to check the expiration date on the packaging. You should not take expired medication as it may be less effective at preventing pregnancy. After a certain period of time, the composition of the medicine may also change and may increase the risk of unwanted side effects.

9. How do you find the pill that’s right for you? 

When it comes to oral contraceptives, every pill is different. You may find that you experience side effects when taking one pill, but fewer side effects when taking a different brand. Some pill formulations might not fit what you’re looking for in terms of the hormones used, while another pill might offer more convenient features that fit your lifestyle. 

Be sure to talk to your doctor about what you’re looking for to find the fill that’s right for you. For a convenient way to speak to a healthcare professional, learn more about how you can connect with a doctor online.

Do not take Slynd if you:

  • have kidney disease or kidney failure
  • have reduced adrenal gland function (adrenal insufficiency)
  • have or have had cervical cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to female hormones
  • have liver disease, including liver tumors
  • have unexplained vaginal bleeding

If any of these conditions happen while you are taking Slynd, stop taking Slynd right away and talk to your healthcare provider. Use non-hormonal contraception when you stop taking Slynd.

Click here to read more Important Risk Information and full prescribing information.

Resources

  1. https://www.salon.com/1999/07/01/fennel/ 
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/must-know-facts-about-the-pill-906934
  3. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/pill-us-food-and-drug-administration-approves-pill/ 
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/morning-after-pill/about/pac-20394730 
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db388.htm 
  6. https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/family-law/family-law-keyed-to-weisberg/private-family-choices-constitutional-protection-for-the-family-and-its-members/eisenstadt-v-baird/ 
  7. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/oral-contraceptives-fact-sheet 
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/do-birth-control-pills-expire