The birth control pill is a very popular contraceptive with nearly 12 million women using this method daily in the United States, according to a report featured by Reuters Health. However, a woman’s birth control choice is very personal. To make the right choice, it is important that you understand both the pros and cons of your most viable options, such as the pill.
All birth control pills are considered to be 99 percent effective. That is to say that only one in 100 women will get pregnant while taking the pill in a year. This rate is far better than most other birth control methods. However, effectiveness can be reduced if you are ill, overweight or taking certain anti-seizure or HIV medications. According to Planned Parenthood, these factors leave the pill nearer 92 percent effective.
Birth control pills are taken by mouth daily. While fairly simple, this method is not as convenient as a patch, intrauterine device or injections, which are all replaced less frequently. However, taking the pill every day means you can stop taking the pill at any time if you choose to get pregnant, a luxury that injections or sterilization cannot boast.
You are likely aware of some of the potential side effects of birth control pills: blood clots, nausea, headaches and weight gain, for instance. While most side effects are minor, women taking the pill should not smoke to minimize the more hazardous side effects like stroke. However, not all side effects are negative. Many women on the pill experience clearer complexions, lighter periods and alleviation from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Furthermore, a recent study that followed 46,000 women for almost 40 years, conducted by Edinburgh University and the Medical Research Council, reports that women who use the pill live longer than their peers.
It is considered safe to take the pill for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, due to the increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke, women over the age of 35 are advised to use an alternate form of birth control.
Oral birth control can only be used if prescribed by a doctor. Typically a doctor will only prescribe the pill if you first undergo a health screening, which will likely include a pap smear, medical history screening and basic blood pressure check. If you are insured, this visit should cost no more than your co-pay. However, Planned Parenthood reports that this visit can cost as much as $250 without insurance.
Birth control pills range from $15 to $50 a month, according to TeensHealth. The lower end of this scale is affordable for most families, and fortunately, most insurance companies cover the pill, so your cost may be cut further. However, when combined with annual doctor’s visits, this price is still out of reach for many uninsured families, and other options may be more affordable in the long run.