Contraception
 
Continuous Birth Control Pill
 
What is it?

  • The Pill is a hormonal contraceptive method.

  • The continuous birth control pill is an oral contraceptive containing two synthetic female hormones (estrogen and progesterone). These hormones resemble those secreted by women.

  • The Pill is prescribed by a physician, following a medical exam. In Québec, it may be prescribed by a nurse for a period of six months in accordance with an hormonal contraception collective prescription.

  • Pills are sold in packs of 91 pills (84 active, i.e. containing hormones, and 7 inactive, i.e. without hormones).

 
How does it work?


  • By blocking the hormonal activity of the pituitary gland (part of the brain), the hormones prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs. If no egg is available for fertilization, pregnancy is not possible.

  • The Pill thins the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching or developing.

  • The Pill also thickens the cervical mucous (sticky substance at the entrance to the uterus), making it harder for sperm to enter the uterus.

  • Menstruation occurs once every three months.

 
How is it used?


  • The Pill must always be taken according to the directions on the package and at the same time of day to keep the hormone level stable. The Pill’s reliability depends on its regularity of use.

  • To know when to start taking your pills, ask your physician. Your first day of menstruation is considered Day 1 of your cycle. Generally, it is recommended to start on Day 1 of your cycle or on the Sunday following this date.

  • This Pill is sold in packages of 91 pills. You take 1 active pill per day for 84 days and 1 inactive pill per day for the following 7 days.

  • During the first month of taking this Pill, you should use an additional birth control method (e.g. a condom).

 
Forgot to take your pill?


  • If you forget to take one or several pills, contact your physician, pharmacist, Info-Santé, or the nurse at your school or CLSC; they will be able to tell you what to do and advise you of the risks.

  • Given the wide selection of Pills (with different hormone levels) available on the market, it’s important to tell any health professional you deal with what kind of Pill you are on.

 
Advantages


  • Intercourse is possible at all times with no risk of pregnancy, which allows for spontaneity. However, the Pill must be taken regularly to be effective, and it does not protect against the transmission of STIs or HIV.

  • Menstruation occurs every three months only.

  • During menstruation, pain is often less intense, and the symptoms associated with menstruation are milder, including premenstrual syndrome.

 
Disadvantages

  • You may forget to take the Pill (a watch with an alarm device or an alarm on your mobile phone could easily eliminate this risk).

  • The Pill does not protect against STIs or HIV.

  • You must have the money on hand when it comes time to buy a new Pill package.

  • This Pill can have certain side effects just like the regular Pill: hypertension, depression, migraine, nausea, breast sensitivity, etc. If you have side effects and they persist, consult your doctor.

  • The Pill is contraindicated for women with cardiovascular or circulation problems, asthma, epilepsy or certain liver diseases, among other things.

  • It may be less effective when taken in conjunction with certain medications, even the most common ones (e.g. aspirin or antibiotics). There may even be interactions with certain vitamins. Consult your physician or pharmacist before starting the Pill.

  • Beware of cigarettes: Cigarettes and the Pill don’t mix (health risk).  
 
 
Cost and effectiveness


  • Cost: Between $75 and $80 if you are not insured

  • Effectiveness: Comparable to the conventional Pill

 
Precautions


  • Read the directions carefully.

  • During the first month, be sure to use another birth control method at the same time (e.g. a condom).

  • Never take the Pill if you think you are pregnant.

  • While current trends are encouraging this type of practice and claim there is no reason for concern over long-term consequences, there is no proof that there are no such consequences. No study can presently ensure that there are no long-term health or fertility consequences from using this type of contraceptive Pill, which allows for menstruation every three months only—something that runs contrary to a woman’s natural cycle.
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