In this day and age, it seems like every one of my friends is on the birth control pill. However, unlike most girls, most of my friends went on the pill to have sex at the end of high school, and simply stayed on it to enter college. And while most people know the basics of birth control, few people ever bother to read the fine print. So here are some of the most important things that you should know (i.e. all the stuff that’s on that little packet of info you throw out every month):
1. Being on antibiotics can make the pill less effective
This is something that most girls do not know, but is often the most common mistake that girls on the pill make. Even if you are taking your pill at the exact same time every day, if you are on antibiotics, they are working so hard to fight viruses that they can sometimes fight the effects of the pill. If you are taking antibiotics, but are still healthy enough to be having sex, use a backup form of birth control.
2. You may not get your period every month
As I personally learned from being on Loestrin 24, sometimes the pill may make your period so light that it will disappear for months at a time. While you should probably get a pregnancy test just to be on the safe side, missing your period for a month or two DOES NOT mean that you are pregnant.
3. Missing one pill means that you should use a backup form of birth control for the next SEVEN DAYS
Even though you might think that missing a pill in the first week of your pack isn’t a big deal, everybody has a different cycle and not using an additional birth control method, like a condom, can lead to pregnancy. And the effects last longer than the 24 hours that pill was good for. To stay completely safe, use an extra form of birth control for a full week. The only time it is okay to miss a pill and not risk pregnancy is if it is one of your placebos.
4. The pill does not protect against AIDS and other STDs
While this might be obvious to a lot of us, many people think that the pill has the same effects as a condom. This is completely and totally wrong. While the pill protects you against pregnancy, it offers you 0% protection against STDS, so using it doesn’t give you an excuse to have a drunken one-night stand and know that you’re protected. You might be protected from a future child, but that doesn’t mean that you are immune to everything your sexual partner has.
5. Generic versions are basically the same
Many people pay up to $30.00 a month for the pill, meaning that they will spend $360.00 a year on birth control. For those people on a tight budget, ask your OB-GYN about generic versions. While they might not look as fancy, they are just as effective, and most importantly, they will protect you against pregnancy and give you a chance to splurge on an extra pair of shoes.
6. Heat and moisture make the pill less effective
The best place to keep your pack of pills is probably in a cool drawer away from heat and moisture. However, this is not always practical, especially if you want to ensure you take your pill the same time every day. My advice is to grab a little pouch lying around (I use one of my old minuscule wristlets) and keep nothing but your pills in there. And DON’T store them in the bathroom! If you are going to be outside, shove your purse under a table or in the shade. It never hurts to be just a little bit safer.
7. All pills are not the same
When you begin taking the pill, you might get your period once every two weeks. You might have mood swings. You might have an ultra-light flow. All of this is totally normal. However, if this continues after a couple of months, there is no harm in switching to another brand. Sometimes girls have to try out four or five pills to find the right ones for their body, so if after two or three months you are still feeling down, don’t suffer in silence. Call your OB-GYN and learn about other options.
Remember, the pill is one of the best things out there, but like every other form of birth control, it needs to be used responsibly to have the maximum effect. If you have something else about the pill you want your fellow CC readers to know, comment away and share the knowledge below!