Healthwise
To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Birth Control Hormones: The Pill

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

What are combination pills?

Combination pills are used to prevent pregnancy. Most people call them "the pill."

Combination pills release a regular dose of two hormones, estrogen and progestin. They prevent pregnancy in a few ways. They thicken the mucus in the cervix. This makes it hard for sperm to travel into the uterus. And they thin the lining of the uterus. This makes it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

The hormones also can stop the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation).

You have to take a pill every day to prevent pregnancy.

There are different kinds of packages for these pills. The most common one has 3 weeks of hormone pills and 1 week of sugar pills. The sugar pills don't contain any hormones. You have your period on that week. But other packs have no sugar pills. If you take hormone pills for the whole month, you will not get your period as often. Or you may not get it at all.

How well do they work?

In the first year of use:1

Be sure to tell your doctor about any health problems you have or medicines you take. He or she can help you choose the birth control method that is right for you.

What are the advantages of combination pills?

What are the disadvantages of combination pills?


References

Citations

  1. Trussell J, Guthrie KA (2011). Choosing a contraceptive: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 20th ed., pp. 45–74. Atlanta: Ardent Media.

Credits for Birth Control Hormones: The Pill

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Rebecca Sue Uranga


Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.