Contraceptive and Fertility Pills
Birth control is one of the most popular protective methods used by women who don’t want to get pregnant. But while it may seem efficient since it largely impacts the changes that take place in your body, birth control doesn’t provide complete protection against pregnancy. As a matter of fact, many women report conceiving while taking the pill.
So can you get pregnant on the pill? Definitely — and here’s everything you want to know about the efficiency of hormone-based birth control pills.
Sure, you’ve heard it before — if you want to avoid pregnancy, you need to start taking the pill. But have you ever wondered how does this pill work?
Conceiving takes place when a viable sperm cell fertilizes one of your eggs. Each month, between 15 and 20 eggs mature in your ovaries. However, only one of them reaches maturity. The eggs are housed in fluid-filled sacs called follicles. On day 14 of your menstrual cycle, the follicle bursts and releases the egg, which travels down the fallopian tubes. If a sperm cell fertilizes the egg while in the fallopian tubes, an embryo is created, which will ultimately attach to your endometrium (lining of the uterus). If no sperm cell fertilizes the egg, it dies within 24 hours after the release.
One factor that facilitates fertilization is egg white cervical mucus. This type of mucus is very fertile because it allows for increased mobility of the sperm cells, meaning they can easily reach to, and fertilize, the egg.
The pill works by inhibiting the body's natural cyclical hormones to prevent pregnancy. Hormonal contraceptives prevent the body from ovulating — when no egg is released, fertilization can’t occur, and hence you can’t get pregnant. Hormonal contraceptives make your cervical mucus thicker and clumpier, so sperm cells can swim through it, and they also change the endometrium so, if an egg is fertilized, it can’t embed to your uterus.
When Do You Take the Pill?
Birth control pills come in month-long series, meaning you take one pill every day of the month. Most of the time, the pills takes during the first three weeks of the month contain hormones, while those you take on the fourth week don’t, so you can have a menstrual period without ovulation. For the most effective use, you should take the pills at the same time every day — e.g. straight after you’ve woken up, or right before bed if you have a consistent bed time.
No contraceptive method is 100% efficient, and oral contraceptives make no exception. When taken correctly, the pill is up to 99.9% effective, meaning there a very slim chance to get pregnant. If you want to avoid pregnancy, consider using condoms along with the pill so you take as many protection measures as needed.
Many women report conceiving while on the pill. The probability for this to happen is only 0.1% — and while that may seem relatively small, it’s not.
In short, yes — you can. Even if you use condoms while on the pill, it may break during intercourse, resulting in your partner’s little guys traveling to and possibly fertilizing the egg. However, using both birth control and condoms will substantially decrease the chances of getting pregnant, so you may want to stock up on condoms to make sure you won’t accidentally conceive.
The best way to stay away from an unwanted pregnancy is to have sex when you’re not in your fertile window. The fertile window starts about 5-6 days before you ovulate, and lasts until the egg supposedly dies. It’s better to have sex after this time so there’s really no chance to get pregnant.
Missing just one pill won’t necessarily set you up for conceiving. However, conception can occur if you miss two or more pills in a row. If you miss one pill, take it with the current day’s pill as soon as you remember (2 pills in total). If you miss two pills, take two pills as soon as you remember, and another two pills the next day, then just one pill for the rest of the month. If you miss three pills, you’ll have to throw away the package and start with a new one. Make sure to use a backup method of birth control for the rest of the month, such as condoms, to avoid pregnancy.
To ensure this won’t happen, make sure you take the pills at the same time every day, and set reminders so you won’t accidentally forget about one. You may also increase your chances of getting pregnant if you don’t take pills in the correct order.
Note that, if you start taking birth control pills too late in your menstrual cycle, you may still get pregnant. Talk to your doctor about this so you can reduce the likelihood to conceive. Don’t worry if you forget taking one sugar pill, but do stay on the track with the rest of the pack.
Keep in mind that you should always check with your ob-gyn to find the right hormone contraceptives for you. He or she will perform additional tests, and based on your medical history and current health state, will prescribe you the best birth control pills. You should not purchase or start taking anti-conceptive medication without a physical exam first!
Can’t Get Pregnant? Fertility Pills May Help You
You’ve read that right — if you can’t conceive, there’s still hope: pregnancy pills. Although not many couples deal with infertility, it’s still a common concern, especially for women with irregular periods. If this is your case as well, schedule an appointment with your doc and discuss your problem as openly as possible, so he or she can find the best solution for your problems.
Fertility pills work by increasing the levels of certain hormones that control ovulation and help you get pregnant. There are several fertility drugs available, including:
Clomifene citrate — This hormone blocks the effects of estrogen in your body, thus boosting levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), two hormones that are absolutely essential for ovulation. While FSH causes the eggs in follicles to mature, LH triggers the release of one or two eggs, which move down one of your fallopian tubes. Usually, clomifene is taken in pill form for five days early in your menstrual cycle, and the treatment can last up to six months at a time.
Gonadotrophins — Both FSH and LH are types of gonadotrophins. These fertility pills are best for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) if they haven’t responded to other treatments. Since both hormones have an action on your ovulation, they are among the most effective ways of getting pregnant. Both LH and FSH are administered in the form of injections over an average of 12 days. These injections will be followed by another injection with human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). While LH stimulates the follicle to release the egg, hCG ensures the follicle can release progesterone and sustain a healthy pregnancy.
Metformin hydrochloride — Common for diabetics, this drug increases the sensitivity to insulin, and is recommended to women with PCOS. Metformin is especially good for women with weight issues, because extra pounds tend to decrease sensitivity to insulin. The drug can be used in conjunction with clomifene, and this usually helps women who can’t tolerate clomifene very well. Metformin works by lowering insulin levels in your body, which in turn decreases testosterone levels and allows ovulation to take place. The drug is taken in several doses every day.
Bromocriptine — Women with hormone imbalances are the most likely to be prescribed bromocriptine. Moreover, women with too much prolactin in their bodies will also benefit from taking bromocriptine. When there’s too much prolactin, the levels of the female hormone estrogen are also lower, which can prevent the body from ovulating and hinder your body-making efforts. Bromocriptine can be taken either as tablets that you swallow, or as intra-vaginal capsules.
Are you thinking about taking fertility drugs? Then think again, because they are known for causing numerous side effects that may dramatically impact your life. Due to the forcing the eggs to ripen and causing the follicles to burst and release more than one, it is very possible to get pregnant with twins. As a matter of fact, fertility drugs are one of the very first solutions you can try if you want to conceive non-identical twins.
Unfortunately, fertility drugs may also increase the risk of giving birth to several disabled children, so it’s important that you carefully consider your options to decide if benefits outweigh risks. In case that your fertility issues are caused by a health condition such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease, you should check with your doctor and identify an efficient treatment option so you can naturally resolve the issue without any risks.