What you need to know about starting birth control pills
When can women start using birth control pills? What are some of the risks involved?
Here are seven quick things you need to know before starting birth control pills!
Questions to ask your doctor about birth control pills
For many women, speaking to their doctor is the first step to finding a birth control option that’s right for them. While it can be easy to feel overwhelmed learning about different types of pregnancy prevention methods, consider writing a list of important questions you want to ask your doctor about birth control pills. Some examples include:
- Are birth control pills a safe option for me?
- What is the difference between combined oral contraceptives (COCs) and progestin-only pills (POPs, also known as the mini-pill)?
- Based on my medical history and lifestyle, do I have a higher risk of blood clots or other cardiovascular issues?
- What happens if I forget to take a pill one day?
- How effective are oral contraceptives?
- If I’m currently taking medication for another health issue, can I still take birth control pills?
Birth control pills can fit your needs and lifestyle
Long gone are the days when women had a limited selection of birth control pills to choose from. Innovations in the industry have led to new products that offer more flexibility and freedom. With Slynd®, we believe your birth control pill should fit your needs and your lifestyle, not the other way around!
An important distinction to make when it comes to oral contraceptives is COCs (combined oral contraceptives) versus POPs (progestin-only pills). COCs contain two types of hormones—estrogen and progestin—that prevent pregnancy. On the other hand, POPs only contain progestin and are safer for women who smoke and those who may be at risk of adverse side effects when taking a pill with estrogen.
For some women, such as those who are overweight or smoke, COCs may be less effective and may lead to increased risks of side effects. COCs contain a boxed warning regarding increased risk of blood clots in women over the age of 35 who smoke. POPs, which do not contain estrogen, do not have a boxed warning and are a safer option.
Who is at a higher risk of side effects?
When speaking to your doctor about starting birth control pills, they will ask about your medical history. Certain health conditions (i.e. liver cancer, serious cardiovascular risk such as heart attacks) and lifestyle choices may lead to a woman having a higher risk of side effects when taking birth control pills. These include:
- Women who are smokers and are 35 years old or older
- Women who have a history of breast cancer, heart disease, or stroke
- Women with high blood pressure or have a history of blood clotting
- Women who have had diabetes for more than 10 years
- Women who suffer from migraine headaches
When can teenage girls start birth control pills?
In addition to preventing pregnancy, some young women may also want to take oral contraceptives as a way to control their acne. Slynd® contains drospirenone, which is a more appropriate birth control hormone for those suffering from skin-related problems, like acne.
In addition to the list above about certain health conditions, girls who have unexplained vaginal bleeding or think they may be pregnant should not start or take oral contraceptives. Before prescribing oral contraceptives, doctors or registered nurses may also conduct a physical exam (including a pelvic exam).
The most common age for teenage girls to start birth control pills is 16 since, at this age, most will have an established menstrual cycle. We recommend speaking to your doctor to learn more about whether or not oral contraceptives are the best option for you.
One question younger women might be asked by their doctor is whether or not they can reliably take the pill at the same time every day. This is because a pill must be taken in a short window of time every day in order to be effective.
After getting your first pack of pills, when should you start them?
Consult with your doctor on when you should take your pills. In many cases, women will start taking their birth control pills as soon as they have them, even during their period. Visit our FAQ section to learn when to start taking Slynd® pills if:
- You haven’t been taking any other form of hormonal birth control
- You’re switching from another birth control pill
- You’re switching from a vaginal ring or transdermal patch
- You’re switching from a different progestin-only method, such as an implant or injection
- Or you’re switching from an intrauterine device or system (IUD or IUS)
In general, for COCs (pills with estrogen), women can start taking the pill within five days after their period starts. This protects them from pregnancy immediately. For women who start COCs at other times, they must take the pill for at least seven days before they’re fully protected.
Most POPs provide protection against pregnancy after 48 hours. However, Slynd® is different because it offers protection immediately if women take it on day one of their period. If taken at any other time, women should use other forms of birth control for at least 48 hours (such as a condom).
How long should oral contraceptives be taken?
Healthy women can take the pill on an ongoing basis as long as they require birth control or until they experience menopause. For older women who haven’t had a menstrual cycle for at least a year, this signals that they have reached menopause. At this stage, the changing hormone levels within the body means the ovaries aren’t releasing any eggs so women can’t get pregnant naturally.
Women who are trying to get pregnant should speak to their doctors about stopping their oral contraceptives. This is also an opportunity to get a pre-pregnancy check-up to ensure you are in full health before getting pregnant.
For older women who haven’t had a menstrual cycle for at least a year, this signals that they have reached menopause. At this stage, the changing hormone levels within the body means the ovaries aren’t releasing any eggs so women can’t get pregnant naturally.
Taking your pill every day
Birth control pills are most effective when they’re taken at the same time every day so the important question to ask yourself is whether or not this is realistic based on your schedule and lifestyle. For progestin-only pills (POPs), until recently, all of them offer a short 3-hour missed pill window. Slynd® now offers a much more generous and flexible 24-hour missed pill window.
Maintaining a schedule to take the pill on time can be a breeze for some women, but may be difficult and stressful for other women. Talk to your doctor about ways you can help yourself remember to take the pill on time and whether it’s the right option for you.
Your pill, your way
It’s important to speak to your doctor about how birth control pills can support your health and lifestyle. While some of the terminologies can get confusing, don’t worry—we can help! Here are some educational resources to help get you started:
- What’s the difference between progestin and estrogen in birth control pills?
- What are “POPs”?
- 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.