Health Info

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Birth Control Methods - The Pill


The birth control pill is a combined hormonal contraceptive containing two hormones, estrogen and progestin. These hormones help to prevent pregnancy by:

How well does the pill work?

Only 3 women in 1,000 will become pregnant if the pill is used correctly and consistently or 99.7% effective. However, failure rate with typical use is 8%.


Benefits of the Pill

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Pill Risks

There is a slight increased risk of developing blood clots when using the Pill. When blood clots occur, they usually first develop in a lower leg and are a potentially life threatening side effect which can lead to heart attack, stroke or lung complications. The risk of a blood clot in pregnancy is much higher than with Pill use.

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your clinician, return to the clinic or go to the nearest Emergency Room immediately. Do not wait for these symptoms to get better.

Additional side effects from the Pill are not life threatening, but may be serious:

We advise a return visit with a nurse for a blood pressure check after 3 months of combined oral contraception use.


Pill Side Effects

Minor side effects are more likely the first 3 cycles of a new Pill and tend to resolve by the 4th cycle. Minor side effects of the Pill that could occur:

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Special Warnings with birth control pills containting the progestin Drospirenone:

Regular Daily use of NSAIDS such as ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) and some other medications are not safe to take with birth control pills containing Drospirenone. Concurrent use of these medications and some diuretics can raise the potassium levels in the blood which can lead to heart and other health problems.

Starting the Pill

There are 3 ways to start your first package of Pills.


Taking the Pill

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Taking the Pill to have Fewer Periods

Skipping the placebo week of one pack of Pills and starting a new package of Pills instead is a safe way to skip a period or have fewer periods.
Spotting is a common, but not serious side effect of skipping the placebo week. Some tips for successful extended use:


Missed Pills

If missed pill is less than 12 hours late, take missed pill immediately then continue with rest of the pills at the usual time. No backup method is needed. No ECP (emergency contraception pill) is needed.

If missed pill is more than 12 hours late, take missed pill immediately and also take today’s pill on time. Use ECP if unprotected intercourse in the past 7 days. Use condoms or abstinence until 7 active pills in a row have been taken.


What Will Make Your Pill Less Effective?

Other Medications

Illness Symptoms




In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.

Test Results and Advice Nurse

Please call the nurse for test results and advice: 814-863-4463

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Appointments can be made online via the UHS website, by phone or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call and cancel. Otherwise you will be charged for the visit. To schedule or cancel appointments call 814-863-0774 or schedule your appointment online through the UHS website.


This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


pproved by the UHS Patient Education Committee

Revised 02/07/2017


Other Health Topics: Women’s Health | Sexual Health | Birth Control | Illegal Drug Use

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