What are the birth control pills?
Combined oral birth control pills or combined oral contraceptives (COC) are also referred to as ‘birth control pills’.
These are a long-term contraceptive method and contain hormones designed to prevent a pregnancy. Combination oral contraceptives contain low doses of 2 hormones that mimic the action of natural hormones in the woman’s body (estrogen and progesterone). The most common estrogen in the pill is ethinylestradiol, but some products contain an estrogen called estradiol.
How does contraception work?
Birth control pills act mainly by preventing ovulation from the ovaries but they also influence uterine implantation and make sperm mobility more difficult. Therefore, their purpose is to prevent an unwanted pregnancy from occurring while maintaining a stable monthly period of menstruation.
A stable menstruation is defined by the absence of menstrual bleeding when the woman takes the pill and the presence of moderate monthly bleeding during the breaks of oral contraceptives
What types of contraceptive pills exist?
A wide range of progestins are available on the market. Depending on the dose of ethinylestradiol in the composition, the pills may be:
- normodoses (50 μg ethinylestradiol)
- minidosses (30 μg ethinylestradiol)
- microdoses (20 μg ethinylestradiol)
Depending on the proportion of ethinylestradiol/progesterone in the pill, regular contraceptives may be monophasic, biphasic or triphasic.
Most pills are monophasic. They release the same amount of estrogen and progesterone over the 21 days of pill administration. There is a 7-day break until the contraceptive pill is reintroduced. Single-dose pills are the first combined oral contraceptive option preferred by most clinicians because of their ease of administration, efficacy, and reduced side effects. The choice of single-phase pill is based on the progesterone component.
For this type of pills, the difference from the monophasic ones is the concentration of the progesterone component. Biphasic pills are given for 21 days plus 7 days of pause.
At the beginning of the contraceptive film, the progesterone concentration is reduced, but it increases as the cycle progresses.
They highlight the pattern of normal female hormone concentration. However, there is no evidence that this is more advantageous to women’s health. The explanation is that administration of systemic steroids to inhibit ovulation is not a physiological process.
As a result, contraceptive efficacy and menstrual bleeding patterns are similar to monophasic pills.
Like the biphasic ones, the triphasic pills differ from the monophasic pills depending on the progesterone concentration they release during the menstrual cycle. However, there are changes in 2 steps, giving rise to three different concentrations. Therefore, it is very important for the woman to take the pills in the correct order.
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