- OB/GYN Services
- Minimally Invasive
- Prenatal Care
- Birth Control
Below are frequently asked questions. Choose any of them and reveal the corresponding answer. If you have any questions call us at 718.875.4848.
The information provided on this site is intended to educate the reader about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health care professional. If you believe you, or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself or anyone else without proper medical supervision.
Some birth control pills contain two hormones — estrogen and progestin. These are called combination pills. Some are progestin-only pills. Most women on the pill take combination pills.
The hormones in the pill work by
• Keeping eggs from leaving the ovaries. Pregnancy cannot happen if there is no egg to join with sperm.
• Making cervical mucus thicker. This keeps sperm from getting to the eggs.
• Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they always take the pill each day as directed.
• About 9 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they don’t always take the pill each day as directed.
The pill may be slightly less effective for women who are very overweight. Talk with your health care provider if you are concerned about how well the pill may work for you.
Certain medicines and supplements may make the pill less effective. These include
• the antibiotic rifampin — other antibiotics do not make the pill less effective
• certain medicines that are taken by mouth for yeast infections
• certain HIV medicines
• certain anti-seizure medicines
• St. John’s wort
Vomiting and diarrhea may also keep the pill from working. Ask your health care provider for advice. Use a backup method of birth control — like a condom, female condom, diaphragm, sponge, or emergency contraception (morning after pill) — until you find out you don’t need to.
Keep in mind the pill doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. Use a latex or female condom to reduce the risk of infection.
You should not take any kind of birth control pill if you have had breast cancer or think you might be pregnant.
You should not take the progestin-only pill if you have blood clotting problems that are not being treated successfully.
You should not take the combination pill during prolonged bed rest or if you
• get migraine headaches with aura
• have certain inherited blood-clotting disorders
• have or are being treated for blood clots or vein inflammation
• have had a heart attack, stroke, angina, or other serious heart problems
• have had serious heart valve problems
• have lupus with certain conditions
• have serious liver disease or have had liver cancer
• have very bad diabetes or have had diabetes for longer than 20 years
• have uncontrolled high blood pressure
• smoke and are 35 or older
• smoke and have high blood pressure
• have had complications after organ transplant
• need to stay in bed for a long time• •
Warnings About Birth Control Pills That Contain Drospirenone
The progestin in YAZ, Gianvi, YASMIN, Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah, Beyaz, and Safyral is different from other birth control pills. It may be linked to a higher risk for blood clots than other birth control pills. It can also raise potassium levels in your blood. This could cause heart and health problems. Make sure you tell your doctor or nurse if you ever had a disease of the kidneys, liver, or adrenal glands. Some medicines are not safe to take with these pills.
If you have a condition that makes it unsafe to take the pill, don’t worry. There are many other methods of birth control that may be safe for you if you cannot take the pill. Read about other methods to find one that may be right for you.
Women who do not need birth control often choose to take the pill for the other benefits it offers. Combination and progestin-only pills
• reduce menstrual cramps
• make periods lighter
• offer some protection against pelvic inflammatory disease, which often leads to infertility when left untreated
The combination pill offers many other benefits, including some protection against
• bone thinning
• breast growths that are not cancer
• ectopic pregnancy
• endometrial and ovarian cancers
• serious infection in the ovaries, tubes, and uterus
• iron deficiency anemia
• cysts in the breasts and ovaries
• premenstrual symptoms, including headaches and depression
• bad cramps
• heavy and/or irregular periods
Combination pills can be used to control when and how often you have your period. Some pills are specially packaged for women to have only a few periods a year. Other pills can also be used continuously to prevent having periods. With these pills, women take an active pill every day to keep from getting their periods. It is normal for them to have spotting or bleeding the first 6 months. It may get less over time. Some stop having any bleeding at all. This is normal and will not harm your body. But it’s a good idea to get tested if you think you might be pregnant.
Some of the most common side effects usually clear up after two or three months. They include
• bleeding between periods (most often with progestin-only pills)
• breast tenderness
• nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may be helped by taking the pill in the evening or at bedtime. But do not stop taking the pill because you feel sick to your stomach — you will be at risk of pregnancy if you do.
The hormones in the pill may change a woman’s sexual desire.
It’s important that you find a method that won’t make you feel sick or uncomfortable. If you continue to experience side effects after taking the pill for three months, talk with your health care provider about changing your prescription.
After stopping the pill, it usually takes one or two months for a woman’s periods to return to the cycle she had before taking the pill. Once in a while, a woman may have irregular periods or no periods at all. This may go on for as long as six months after stopping. This is more likely if her periods were irregular before starting the pill.
Serious Side Effects of the Pill
Many women have concerns about the possible risks of taking birth control pills. Serious problems do not occur often. And progestin-only pills have a lower risk of serious side effects than combination pills.
The progestin in YAZ, Gianvi, YASMIN, Ocella, Syeda, and Zarah, Beyaz, and Safyral may be linked to a higher risk for blood clots than other birth control pills. It can also raise potassium levels in your blood. This could cause heart and health problems.
Combination pill users have a slightly greater chance of certain rare, but serious, problems than nonusers. These problems, that may be fatal in very rare cases, include heart attack, stroke, having a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain, or developing high blood pressure, liver tumors, gallstones, or yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice).
The risk for these problems increases if you
• are age 35 or older
• are very overweight
• have certain inherited blood-clotting disorders
• have diabetes
• have high blood pressure
• have high cholesterol
• need prolonged bed rest
Serious problems usually have warning signs. Report any of these signs to your health care provider as soon as possible:
• a new lump in your breast
• a sudden very bad headache
• achy soreness in the leg
• aura — seeing bright, flashing zigzag lines, usually before a very bad headache
• bad pain in your abdomen or chest
• headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual
• no period after having a period every month
• trouble breathing
• yellowing of the skin or eyes
The Pill and Breast Cancer
You may have heard claims linking the pill to breast cancer. The most recent medical literature suggests that the pill has little, if any, effect on the risk of developing breast cancer.
See the insert from your pack of pills for more information about possible side effects.
In 21-day packs, one pill is taken every day for three weeks in a row. No pills are taken for the next week, and then a new pack of pills is started.
Some combination pills contain a few months’ worth of active pills. They are specially packaged to reduce the number of periods a woman has each year. Women can also take the active pills in 21-day or 28-day packs continuously to reduce how often they have periods.
Progestin-only pills come only in 28-day packs. All progestin-only pills are active.
With combination pills, you’ll get your period during the fourth week — unless you choose to avoid menstruation by using active combination pills during the fourth week, as well.
With progestin-only pills, you may
• get your period the fourth week
• get no periods
• have bleeding on and off throughout the month
The hormones in birth control pills prevent pregnancy throughout the entire month — even during the fourth week.
Helpful Tips About Birth Control Pills
Take the pill at the same time each dayTaking the pill at the same time each day makes it more effective. Pick a time of day that is easy to remember. You might find it helpful to take it when you do something else you do every day — like brushing your teeth or eating dinner. Many women set an alarm on their cell phones or watches. A missed period does not always mean you are pregnant, especially if you have not skipped any pills. Even though the chance of pregnancy is very low, you may want to take a pregnancy test if you miss two periods in a row. Talk with your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns while using the pill.
There is a very slight chance that you will become pregnant even if you take the pill as directed. It is unlikely that taking the pill during early pregnancy will increase the risk of birth defects. However, the likelihood of ectopic pregnancy is greater if you become pregnant while taking the progestin-only pill.
If you decide you want to become pregnant, stop taking the pill. It’s possible to get pregnant right after stopping. It usually takes about one or two months for your period to return to the cycle you had before taking the pill.
You may start the combination pill at any time. If you start within five days after the start of your period, you are protected against pregnancy right away. You will not need to use a backup method of birth control. That means that if your period starts on a Wednesday morning, you can start the pill up to Monday morning to be protected right away. If you start at any other time during your menstrual cycle, you will be protected from pregnancy after seven days. Use another method of birth control — like a condom, female condom, diaphragm, or sponge — if you have vaginal intercourse during the first week of use.
You may start the progestin-only pill at any time. Use another method of birth control if you have vaginal intercourse during the first 48 hours of progestin-pill use — protection will begin after two days.
Taking the progestin-only pill at the same time each day is essential. If you take it more than three hours past the regular time, you need to use a backup method of birth control for 48 hours after taking the late pill.
Starting the Pill After Pregnancy
It’s possible to get pregnant again shortly after being pregnant. Starting birth control after pregnancy is an important concern for many women. And many of these women choose the pill.
You can start taking the combination pill after waiting at least three weeks after giving birth vaginally. You should wait at least six weeks after birth if you are nursing or if you have an increased risk of blood clots. Women have a higher risk of blood clots if they
• are obese
• are over age 35
• had a cesarean section (C-section)
• had heavy bleeding after delivery
• had preeclampsia
• have certain inherited blood clotting disorders
• have had blood clots in the past
• have a close family member who has had blood clots
• need prolonged bed rest
• received a blood transfusion at delivery
You can start using the combination pill right after an abortion or miscarriage.
You can start taking the progestin-only pill right after an abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.
Breastfeeding and Birth Control Pills
Progestin-only pills will not affect your milk during nursing.
You should wait to start using combination pills if you are nursing because they may reduce the amount and quality of milk in the first six weeks of breastfeeding.
Breast milk will contain traces of the pill’s hormones. It is unlikely that these hormones will have any effect on your child. But talk with a health care provider about what birth control methods might be right for you after giving birth.