Birth control pills are an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and use hormones to do so. Some pills contain a hormone called progestin while others contain two hormones – progestin and estrogen. In either cases, these pills work on two different mechanisms. They stop women from ovulating and cause thickening of the cervical mucus making it difficult for the sperm to come in contact with the egg during ovulation.

Although these pills don’t provide protection against HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), when used correctly, they are 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy. However, the fact that a number of women take pills incorrectly has increased their failure rate to 9% on an average. If we talk about the most effective ways of birth control pills, Copper IUD and Hormonal IUD have the lowest failure rates of 0.8% and 0.2% respectively.

The more responsible you are in taking the pills daily and starting your pill packs on time, the more efficiently they work. But, there’s still a very minute chance of pregnancy despite following the correct procedure. Usually, the first week after taking the first pill should be combined with another effective method of birth control like condoms.

For progestin-only pills, women are protected from unwanted pregnancy within a couple of days. So, vaginal sex should be coupled with condoms to prevent pregnancy for at least the next 48 hours. Consult your doctor to best know the best time of starting the pill.

Besides taking the pill incorrectly, there are a number of other factors which can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. The pill is known to work less effectively in case of obese women. Also, diarrhea or vomiting for over 48 hours, few medicines and supplements such as HIV medications, anti-seizure medicines can negatively impact the working of these pills.

The biggest factor that can hamper the functioning of birth control pills is carelessness in not taking them every day. For higher safety, it is best to use condoms in combination with these pills to stay free from unwanted pregnancy. You should also seek your doctor’s advice to know if there’s any particular pill which won’t suit you.

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