Hormone medications are used by women to contain the hormones in the body. These pills are consumed to regulate the menstrual cycle, treat menopause symptoms and even prevent bone loss among women. At times, women use them as emergency birth control too.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Dr Sushma Tomar, Consultant Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis Hospital, who enlightens you about how hormone pills work, instances when you can take them, their possible side effects, and myths associated with their consumption.
What Is Hormone Imbalance?
When hormones rise or drop in comparison to the normal levels in the bloodstream, then hormone imbalance occurs. Hormones help the body to regulate its important functions like reproductive cycles, metabolism, heart rate, mood, sleep, etc. In women, it is natural for hormone levels to fluctuate at certain times, which we will discuss next.
3 Possible Causes Of Hormone Imbalance
The possible factors behind hormonal imbalance among women are:
- During or before menstruation.
- During pregnancy or menopause. However, if this imbalance persists for a longer period and is affecting one’s health or day-to-today life, then one should consult a doctor.
- Medical reasons or lifestyle habits like stress, tumour, unhealthy diet, medications, birth control pills, and chemotherapy or radiation.
Read: 5 Causes & Significances Of Uneven Breasts, According To A Gynaec
2 Types Of Birth Control Pills
Progesterone and Levonorgestrel are two types of emergency contraceptive pills.
While progesterone can be made in a laboratory the body too consists of this hormone. While these medications can be used as emergency contraceptives, they are commonly taken by women to restart menstrual periods that have unexpectedly stopped. It is also consumed to manage hormonal imbalances and abnormal uterine bleeding.
This medication is mainly consumed to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected intercourse or due to failure of birth control e.g., a broken condom. These pills should not be used as birth control and taken only as emergency contraceptives.
How Hormone Pills Work
Progesterone is present in the body and this hormone is released by the ovaries. The hormone is also necessary to fertilise the eggs in the uterus and maintain pregnancy. As one gets pregnant after an egg that is released from the ovary is fertilised by the sperm, this pill can assist to stop the fertilisation process. Also, it can even help to stop the ovulation – process when the body releases the egg in the ovary.
Using emergency contraceptives cannot stop existing pregnancies. Also, all pills do not have the same chemicals or compounds and their effect on a person might differ according to their health, body type and medical history. Hence, one should consume these medications only after consulting with a doctor.
3 Instances When You Can Take Hormone Pills
The emergency contraceptive pills are single-use, and they should be taken within three days (72 hours) of unprotected sex. Also, the medication should ideally not be taken on an empty stomach. These pills are 91 per cent effective in avoiding pregnancy. One can consume the pill for the following reasons:
- Birth control failure – broken condom
- Did not use vaginal ring correctly
- Forgot to take regular contraceptive pills
Read: How IUD Scores Over Other Birth Control Methods (& 4 Common Side Effects)
10 Possible Side-Effects Of Emergency Pills
Few women do face side effects after popping the pill which usually doesn’t last for long. Some of these side effects are:
- Tender breasts
- Irregular bleeding
- Sore breasts
- Changes in mood
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
In case these symptoms persist or prolong, then one should consult a doctor as it could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
6 Myths About Emergency Contraceptives
While there is ample information on the use and benefits of these pills, there are some misconceptions too around them. Here are a few:
1. Emergency contraceptives can only be taken the morning after
One should take the pill as soon as possible and not wait until morning to do so. This is because the sooner the medication is taken, the more effective it is.
2. There are no emergency contraceptive pills that can be taken post-72 hours
While it is ideal to take a pill as soon as there is birth control failure or unprotected sex, there are few pills that can be taken after the period of three days too.
3. Emergency contraceptives in 100 per cent protective
These pills do prevent pregnancy but are not 100 per cent protective and are around 91 per cent effective. Thus, one can get pregnant even after taking these pills.
4. Prescription is needed for emergency contraceptive pill
Most of these pills can easily be taken over the counter (OTC) and without a prescription. However, it is advised to speak to your doctor before taking them, in order to avoid any health complications.
5. Emergency contraceptives can cause abortion
The morning-after pill can only prevent a woman from conceiving and will not help end a pregnancy that has started.
6. You can have unprotected sex after having a morning-after pill
The pill works only after unprotected sex and it will not prevent a woman from getting pregnant if birth control fails to post the pill is taken.
Emergency contraceptives are easily available, pocket-friendly and one of the best solutions when birth control fails. However, one should not consume it without consulting their doctor, in order to avoid any health complications.
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