Birth Control

What is birth control?

Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy.

There are many different methods of birth control, including hormonal contraception such as the birth control pill. Birth control pills are only available with a prescription from your health care provider.

Other methods of birth control include condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs), the rhythm method, the Depo-Provera injection, a hormonal intradermal implant, vasectomy, and tubal ligation.

While Patient First can provide in-person consultation about birth control, we recommend consulting with an OB-GYN if you have never successfully taken oral contraceptives before. Following the CDC’s guidance that the choice of birth control should be personalized based on each patient’s use and medical history, we generally do not initiate prescriptions for birth control. However, we are able to provide refills of prescriptions for oral contraception to patients who utilize Patient First as their primary care physician. We are also able to address issues with anyone who may be experiencing problems with a current contraceptive or facing a lapse between prescriptions.

Unfortunately, we are not able to insert or remove intrauterine devices or intradermal implants. If you are seeking these or other non-pill forms of contraception, you should consult your OB-GYN.

How does the birth control pill work?

Most people in the U.S. who are on the birth control pill take the “combination pill” which is comprised of estrogen and progestin. This type of pill prevents your ovaries from releasing eggs and produces changes in your cervix and uterus that lower the chance of pregnancy.

The other type of pill is the “mini pill” which only contains progestin and works by producing changes that keep sperm from reaching and fertilizing eggs.

What are benefits of the combination birth control pill?

You have less than a 1% chance of getting pregnant if you use them exactly as directed, which means taking your pill every day. Their effects are easy to reverse, too. When you want to get pregnant, stop taking them and it will be possible to get pregnant soon afterward.

Usually, if you miss two of these pills in a row, you will need to use backup birth control for at least a week.

Combination pills have benefits beyond birth control.

  • They help regulate your periods and decrease cramping.
  • They can lower your risk of certain cancers.
  • They might clear your acne.
  • They can also help to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

What are side effects of birth control pills?

There are side effects of birth control pills, although the majority are not serious.

Side effects include:
  • Nausea
  • Sore or swollen breasts
  • Slight bleeding, or spotting, between periods
  • Lighter periods
  • Mood changes
  • Mild headache

The following side effects are less common but more serious. If you have any of these, contact your doctor right away.

  • Abdominal pain (belly pain)
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches (severe)
  • Visual changes
  • Swelling or aching in the lower legs or thighs

Who can take the birth control pill?

Birth control pills can be taken safely by most women. Women who do not have any of the issues listed below, and who do not smoke, can often safely use hormonal contraceptives until menopause.   

You should not take hormonal contraceptives if you have had:

  • Blood clots in the arms, legs, or lungs
  • Serious heart or liver disease
  • Cancer of the breast or uterus
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Migraines
  • Stroke or heart attack

There are other conditions that may raise your level of risk that comes with taking birth control pills. If you’re not sure if you’re affected by one of these conditions, ask your doctor.

You can come into any Patient First center from 8am to 8pm any day of the week - no appointment needed.