The Matrix may have had you mulling over whether to take the red pill or the blue pill, but why not add another one to the mix, the birth control pill? The birth control pill was first introduced in the 1960s. Back then, it was revolutionary that a small pill could have control over one’s reproductivity.
Its simplicity and efficacy in preventing pregnancy overshadowed messier and less reliable alternatives, such as condoms and diaphragms. Since the start of its use, the pill has helped millions of women prevent unplanned pregnancies. How does the pill work physiologically to have become such a success? It prevents ovulation, the 14th day of the menstrual cycle when the ovaries release one or more eggs. The pill contains estrogen and progesterone, which help stabilize the body’s hormone levels and hinder the initiation of ovulation, which is otherwise generally triggered by the spike in estrogen. The estrogen and progesterone also thicken the cervical mucus, which makes it rough terrain for sperm to swim towards the egg.
The mechanism behind the pill is effective and reliable, research shows that with perfect use, the pill is 99.7% effective. However, there are some drawbacks to this method of contraception, for which reason there has been a steady decline in its usage over time as alternative methods have been developed.
The development of the Intrauterine Device (IUD) has created hefty competition for the birth control pill. It is a T shaped plastic that is placed in the uterus and comes with copper or with low dose progesterone. Once placed into the uterus by an OBGYN, IUDs are extremely reliable. Without any daily habit, monthly copays, hassle’s on trips, the IUDs are reliably 99%+ effective at preventing pregnancy. They can last from 3-12 years. As a result of increased IUD use (among other options), an article on Quartz states that by 2017, “the proportion of American women on the pill had dropped to just over one fifth (22%).”
Despite the drastic reduction in the usage of the pill, it is surprisingly still the most popular form of contraceptive used — 9.6 million American women still take it daily! This will likely change in the future, with the IUD gaining more traction, especially among college and high school women. It is ultimately up to you to decide which contraceptive is best suited for you and your body. Each contraceptive has its fair share of pros and cons. Consult your healthcare provider to discuss every option.
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano has also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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