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The Pill: Pros & Cons

3rd April 2013

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The pill is one of the most common forms of contraception of the United Kingdom. It works by stopping any eggs being released, thinning the lining of the womb and thickening the mucas at the neck of the womb. In order for this to work efficently for 21 days a pill is taken and then there is a seven day break before the cycle is started again.

As with anything though there are pros and cons with taking the pill.


  • Effect upon periods: Painful and heavy periods? The pill has been known to make bleeds much more regular, lighter and a lot less painful. A bleed, known as a break through bleed, will usually occur during your seven day break.
  • No interruptions during sex: It's no secret that condoms can sometimes effect the moment. Oral contraceptives do not interfere or interupt sex & being 99% effective risk of pregnancy is very low. 
  • Reduction of cancer risk: The pill can reduce your risk of overian and endometrial (uterine lining) cancers. It should be noted that it is not a prevention but just a chance of reducing the risk of it developing.
  • Benefits in helping acne: Breakouts are often a sign that a period is on the way. Not only does the pill make your periods lighter but some, such as Dianette, also reduce the effects of PMS, including acne.

  • Risk of STIs: Being on the pill means you may feel less of a need for condoms, especially if you are with a long-term partner. If this is the case you should both go for an STI check before making the decision to rely on the pill alone. When sleeping with someone new always use condoms as well as the pill. If you do slip up the best way to reduce your risk of contracting something nasty is to get yourself checked at a local sexual health clinic.
  • Initial side effects: It is very common that within the first few months of starting the pill there may be some temporary side effects. These can include headaches, breast tension, nausea and mood swings - they may even mirror the symptoms of pregnancy. After the first two or three months these should disappear - if not, speak to your doctor or nurse. 
  • Breakthrough bleeding: Though not everyone suffers, some may find that during the first few months of starting the pill spotting and breakthough bleeding may occur at any time. This is due to your body getting use to the change in hormones but all should settle down soon. This can also happen if you 'skip' a period by continuing to take the pill without the seven day break, which some women may choose to do in order to avoid painful periods or disruption to sex life - although the effects on health are not fully known. 
  • Increased blood pressure: There is a risk that the pill can increase your blood pressure. Before each new perscription your nurse will check your blood pressure and advise your on whether to continue with your current pill or consider a new method of contraception. 
  • Increased risk of breast cancer: Certain pills can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in young women. If you stop taking the pill for 10 years, the risk will return to pre-contraceptive level
For more information check out these useful sites:

Livestrong - Conraception

NHS Sexual Health  

BBC Sexual Health

Family Planning Association


Marie Stopes 

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