Contraceptive, pill: Commonly called “the pill,” combined oral contraceptives are the most commonly used form of reversible birth control in the United States.
This form of birth control suppresses ovulation (the monthly release of an egg from the ovaries) by the combined actions of the hormones estrogen and progestin.
If a woman remembers to take the pill every day as directed, she has an extremely low chance of becoming pregnant in a year. But the pill’s effectiveness may be reduced if the woman is taking some medications, such as certain antibiotics.
Besides preventing pregnancy, the pill can make periods more regular. It also has a protective effect against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of the fallopian tubes or uterus that is a major cause of infertility in women, and against ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Birth control pills are considered safe for most women but they carry some risks. Current low-dose pills have fewer risks associated with them than earlier versions. But women who smoke, especially those over 35, and women with certain medical conditions such as a history of blood clots or breast or endometrial cancer, may be advised against taking the pill. The pill may also contribute to cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, blood clots, and blockage of the arteries.
One of the biggest questions has been whether the pill increases the risk of breast cancer in past and current pill users. An international study published in the September 1996 issue of the medical journal “Contraception” concluded that women’s risk of breast cancer 10 years after going off birth control pills was no higher than that of women who had never used the pill. During pill use and for the first 10 years after stopping the pill, women’s risk of breast cancer was only slightly higher in pill users than non-pill users.
The side effects of the pill include nausea, headache, breast tenderness, weight gain, irregular bleeding, and depression. These side effects often subside after a few months’ use of the pill.
This is in part based on information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Contraceptive, minipill
Contraceptive, minipill: A form of oral contraceptive taken daily, like combined oral contraceptives (the “pill”), but containing only the hormone progestin and no estrogen. The minipill works by reducing and thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. It also keeps the uterine lining from thickening, which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting […]
- Contraction, uterine
Contraction, uterine: The tightening and shortening of the uterine muscles. During labor, contractions cause the cervix to thin and dilate, and they aid the baby in its entry into the birth canal and then its progress through the birth canal.
- Contractions, Braxton Hicks
Contractions, Braxton Hicks: Irregular contractions of the womb (the uterus) occurring towards the middle of pregnancy in the first pregnancy and, earlier and more intensely, in subsequent pregnancies. These contractions tend to occur during physical activity. The uterus tightens for 30 to 60 seconds beginning at the top of the uterus; and the contraction gradually […]
Contraindicate: To make a treatment or procedure inadvisable because of a particular condition or circumstance. For examples, certain medications are contraindicated during pregnancy because of the danger they pose to the fetus and the use of aspirin is clearly contraindicated in small children because of the danger of Reye syndrome.
Contraindication: A condition which makes a particular treatment or procedure potentially inadvisable. A contraindication may be absolute or relative. An absolute contraindication is a situation which makes a particular treatment or procedure absolutely inadvisable. In children, for example, aspirin is almost always contraindicated because of the danger that aspirin will cause Reye syndrome. A relative […]