Using the Pill? Here are some things you might not know!

Almost half of Irish women rely on the Pill as their main form of contraception, according to a recent survey. But with so many different brands on the market and so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to make sure you’re using it right. While the Pill is proven to be 99% effective, this only applies if you’ve actually followed the rules and taken it exactly as prescribed.

We asked Dr. Eleanor Galvin from Rosemount Family Doctors for some insider information and here’s what we found out…

Not all pills have to be taken at the same time daily…
Combined Pills containing both oestrogen and progestogen, such as Yasmin, Microlite and Ovranette, can be taken “within a 12 hour window each day,” says Dr. Galvin. So don’t stress if you realise just when you’re hopping into bed that you’ve forgotten to take it – it’s not too late!

But some definitely DO need to be taken at the right hour!
If you’re taking the mini-pill, which is progestogen-only, you can’t slack off. “The mini-pill must be within the same one-hour slot each day,” says Dr Galvin. “Otherwise you might as well have not taken it at all.”

Many antibiotics will not affect how your Pill works!
The common myth is that taking antibiotics will automatically cause your pill to lose effectiveness – but this doesn’t apply to all medicines. “There are certain antibiotics which are proven not to have a negative effect on your Pill,” says Dr Galvin. “Make sure to tell your doctor what contraception you are using, so that if possible they can prescribe you an antibiotic that won’t cause any problems.”

The Pill is very unlikely to cause weight gain…
When starting a new Pill or taking it for the first time, you may feel a little moody as your hormones settle into a new rhythm, but piling on the pounds is extremely rare. “Many people attribute weight gain to starting on the Pill for the first time,” says Dr. Galvin, “but if you’ve started taking it because you are in a new relationship, it might be your lifestyle changes that are causing the change in weight.”

In fact the right Pill can actually benefit your body in many ways!
Did you know that certain types of Pill can actually to help you lose weight and lessen water retention? Or clear up acne-prone skin? Neither did we! “You might be interested in the Pill only for contraception, but it can be used for many purposes,” says Dr Galvin. “One Pill in particular is proven to aid weight loss of up to 7lbs in a year.” If you have especially heavy or irregular periods, the Pill can also help that.

Don’t trust yourself to take the Pill every day? There is an alternative that’s just as effective!
Failing to follow instructions to the letter or starting the Pill without the proper information means it is often taken wrong – with unwanted results. Many young women are now opting for a 3-year IUD implant instead, which Dr Galvin says is “pretty much foolproof.” She has seen a huge trend of 18 -25 year olds getting the implant, known as Implanon, in recent years. “The total cost is around €240, which works out cheaper than 3 years’ worth of doctor’s visits and pill packets,” she says. Interesting!