Oral Contraceptive Pills


Most of these offer combination of estrogen and progesterone in low doses. They are very effective with a failure rate of just 0.5% if taken religiously. The OC Pill works in the following ways:

Effects of Estrogen

  • Inhibits release of eggs from the ovary.
  • Accelerates transport of eggs in the fallopian tube.
  • Causes changes in the lining of the uterus and prevents implantation.

Progesterone effects

  • Forms a thick cervical mucus plug which inhibits transport of sperms
  • The enzyme that enables the sperm to penetrate the ovum is not activated
  • Inhibits implantation by causing changes in the uterus lining

Noncontraceptive benefits


(These occur on prolonged use. Ideally pills should be taken in the format of 6 months ON and 1month OFF.)

  • Missed periods or scanty bleeding
  • Inter-menstrual (Inter-period) spotting
  • Nausea
  • Breast fullness or tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Darkening of skin over cheeks (chloasma)
  • Headaches
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke

Pills should not be taken in cases of breast cancer, heart problems, pregnancy, liver disorders, hypertension, major surgery or a condition requiring prolonged bed rest.


Most of the pills are available as a pack of 21 tablets. They are to be started on 5th day of the period (beginning of the menstruation is taken as the 1st day) and taken for 21 days NON-STOP. After a gap of 7 days, when no pills are taken, second pack is started and continued for another cycle.


If you are taking the pill and get any of the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Leg pain
  • You need to take some medication as the pills may alter their effect. Certain drugs like anti-tuberculars anti epileptics have specific drug-interaction with OCPs and women who are on such medications are advised to follow some other method of contraception.

Note: Stop the pill 2-3 mths before you plan your next pregnancy as sometimes body's own hormones take that long to swing back into action.


These are less effective than combined pills. Beginning first day of the cycle, they have to be taken continuously without any pill free interval. Also they have to be taken at the same time daily. The failure rate is slightly higher than combined OC pills (1-4%)

Emergency Contraception

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