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Is Birth Control Pill the right method for you?

 Basics about the PILL and the MINIPILL

  • The Pill keeps the woman's egg from leaving her ovaries (ovulation), makes the cervical mucus thicker, and changes the lining of the uterus (endometrium) so that the fertilized egg will not attach to the uterus
  • The woman takes one pill every day at the same time of the day
  • Since there is no egg to meet with the man's sperm, the woman does not get pregnant.
  • The Pill is a hormonal method to prevent pregnancy. The Pill is also called a "combined" oral contraceptive because it has two hormones, estrogen and progesterone. The Minipill contains only one hormone (progesterone).

Couples might LIKE the PILL because:

  • Convenient, does not interfere with sex
  • May diminish menstrual cramps and pain
  • May regulate menstrual periods
  • May protect against ovarian and endometrial cancer
  • May prevent ectopic pregnancies
  • May protect against osteoporosis
  • In the U.S., it is safety to use birth control pills than to deliver a baby
  • The pill has protective effects against PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)

Couples might DISLIKE the PILL because:

  • Must take daily at the same time
  • Many side effects
  • Offers no protection against transmission of STIs/STDs, and/or HIV/AIDS

How well does the PILL work?

Less than 3 out of a 100 women using the pill become pregnant (97% theoretical use, 95% actual use)

How does the PILL compare with the effectiveness of other forms of birth control?

Women out of 100 that got pregnant using the methods below

Abstinence No women
Depo Provera Shots 1 out of 100
Sterilization 1 out of 100
Contraceptive Patch 1 out of 100
IUD 2 out of 100
Vaginal Ring 2 out of 100
The Pill 3 out of 100
Male Condom 12 out of 100
Spermicide 16-21 out of 100
Diaphragm 18 out of 100
NFP/FAM 20 out of 100
Female Condom 21 out of 100
No Method 85 out of 100

How do you use the PILL?

Take one pill at the same time every day. The nurse in the clinic will tell you when to start taking the pill.

Possible side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Weight gain/weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Breast enlargement
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Skin darkness on face
  • Higher risk of deficiencies of various B vitamins (B2,B6, B 12), folic acid and vitamin C

Dispelling myths:

The Birth Control PILL

  • DOES NOT cause infertility
  • DOES NOT cause birth defects
  • DOES NOT require a “rest” period
  • DOES NOT decrease sex drive
  • DOES NOT build up in a woman’s body

You should NOT use the PILL if you have:

  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Liver tumors, active hepatitis or severe cirrhosis
  • Current breast cancer
Your medical care provider will help you determine if there are any contraindications to the use of the pill.

If you smoke, be sure to tell your medical care provider.
Signs there might be a problem:

You should go to your nearest hospital emergency room if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:

Acronym “ACHES”

  • Abdominal pain(severe)
  • Chest pain (severe or shortness of breath)
  • Headaches(severe)
  • Eye problems such as blurred vision or loss of vision
  • Severe leg pain (calf or thigh)

How is the MINIPILL different from the PILL?

  • The Minipill is a birth control pill that contains only one hormone (progesterone) instead of the two hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in the “regular” Birth Control Pill.
  • Although you take one pill at the same time every day just like the "regular" Pill, if you are 3 hours late taking your Minipill you MAY become pregnant and MUST use a back-up method such as condoms for the next 48 hours
  • The Minipill is slightly less effective against pregnancy than the "regular" Pill (96% if used correctly all the time)
  • The Minipill is most often provided for women who have had problems with the “regular” birth control pill or who are breastfeeding
Department of Public Health
Family Planning
3900 Sherman Way - Suite J - Riverside, CA 92503
(951)358-5192 or Email: