Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Pill

Did you know that "the Pill" is 50 years old? Hard to believe it's been around for so long. Of course, the pill today is nothing like our mother's "pill". The estrogen hormone content of our oral contraceptives today is almost half of the amount in the original formulas. Today we use the pill for much more than birth control, and its benefits are numerous.

Painful cramps, irregular periods, PMS, acne and anemia (from heavy periods) can all be helped by taking an oral contraceptive. Not everyone on the pill is taking it to prevent conception. In fact, in my practice, I would estimate that roughly a third of my patients on the pill are purely taking it for medical reasons.

What else should you know? Primarily, that it must be taken consistently, and at the same time every day. People who take the pill "when I go to bed or when I get up" are rarely consistent, and if the time fluxuates by several hours on the weekends, for example, they may become pregnant if they are not using another form of birth control. Also, if you take an antibiotic, be aware that it decreases the effectiveness of the pill.

Last but not least, remember that being on the pill in no way protects you against STDs. Enough said.

BOTTOM LINE: The oral contraceptive pill has been around for half a century, and the "new, improved" versions help with many different medical issues.

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