The invention of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s offered the women control over conception for the first time. These pills are the most effective and safe way to prevent conception. To know how these pills work, we first need to understand the cycle of female reproduction.
Female reproduction cycle:
A woman's reproductive system consists of two ovaries, which contain thousands of follicles, within which there are immature eggs. During the menstrual cycle, the pituitary gland releases F.S.H. (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), which stimulates the immature eggs (follicles) to grow. At the same time, multiple follicles may start to develop, but only one reaches maturity each month. In the interim, when this growth is taking place, the cells around the egg produce oestrogen. It is one of the female hormones, which starts the process to prepare the uterus by stimulating its lining to grow for the fertilized egg.
The pituitary gland gets indication that the follicle has achieved certain size and development, which in turn indicates that the ovary is ready to release the egg. As a result of this, the pituitary gland releases a high level of L.H (Luteinising Hormone), which alerts the ovary to release the egg. This whole process takes place due to increased levels of oestrogen in the blood. After that the follicle bursts to release the egg, which then makes its way through one of the fallopian tubes to the uterus. After reaching the uterus it may be fertilized by sperm, resulting in pregnancy.
Corpus luteum, the cells that formed the follicle, start to produce progesterone. In the case of fertilization, continuous release of progesterone takes place, which keeps the egg implanted and growing. But, if it is not the case, corpus luteum stops producing hormones. So levels of progesterone and oestrogen fall, which result in break of uterus lining. After that the whole cycle starts again.
How contraceptive pills work?
Contraceptive pills induce a slow release of reproductive hormones, which suppresses the ovulation process. Due to this, there is no egg production, so there is no possibility of pregnancy if there is no egg to fertilize.
Types of birth control pills:
There are two forms of birth control pills, one is the combined pill and another one is the mini pill. Combined pills contain both oestrogen and progestogen whereas mini pills only contain progestogen. There are many contraceptive pills in the market either in the combined or mini pill form. One of the most common pills is Yasmin, which is a combined pill that comprises both oestrogen and progestogen. Cerazette is another popular mini pill, which contains only progestogen. So it is safe for women, who are pregnant or women above 35 years of age and smoking. Dianette also works as an effective contraceptive. Yasmin is available in 21 or 28-day packs. For woman using the 21-day pack is having option of not taking the pills for 7 days after the pack finishes and resuming another pack after 7 days. 28-day pack contains 21 reproductive hormone pills and 7 placebos.