ZocdocAnswersHow does the pill work?

Question

How does the pill work?

I'm thinking about starting the pill. All of my friends are on it, it seems like, but I'm worried it might be unnatural. What all does it prevent against and what are the risks?

Answer

I recommend that you discuss your various options with your primary care doctor or OB GYN. Put in the simplest terms, the birth control pill (oral contraceptives) works by convincing your body to behave as if it is in some form of pregnancy. The female menstrual cycle and reproductive systems are amazingly regulated systems that provide for regular periods of fertility and allow the female body to create and host a new baby. The amount and subtleties of the hormonal regulation that make that possible are impressive, and birth control pills help to adjust these systems. In a usual menstrual cycle, there are periods of preparing an egg for fertilization, periods for fertilizing the egg, and the periods of possible implantation of the fertilized egg, if there is one. At the end of the cycle, the lining of the uterus will slough off (the bleeding that comes at the end of a cycle) and the whole thing will begin again. In order to prevent pregnancy, the different pills work on either the lining of the uterus, the release of the egg, the thickening of the cervical mucus, or other factors. All of these are natural changes that your body would undergo during a part of your cycle or pregnancy, but the pill tries to maintain them at different times than would usually occur. You should definitely speak to your doctor to see if this is right for you, and what kinds of other options may be available. Book an appointment today!

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