Contraception – Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills (COCP)
Combined oral contraceptive pills (COCPs) are a type of female hormonal birth control method that is effective in preventing pregnancy. The COCPs are made up of many small tablets that the lady has to consume every day. Most tablets consist of 2 types of human-made female hormones: estrogen and progestin. These are similar to the physiological estrogen and progesterone hormone that are produced by a woman’s ovaries.
How does COCP work?
The hormones in the COCPs avoid pregnancy by suppressing ovulation and preventing the sperm from reaching the egg by thickening the cervix lining. The lining of the uterus changes with COCPs and this prevents the sticking of the fertilized egg onto the womb.
Other Medical Benefits when taking COCPs:
- Regulates and lightens period
- Reduce period cramps
- Aids Premenstrual Syndromes (PMS)
- Improves acne
- Reduce the risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, ovarian cyst, colon cancer
- Reduce the risk of ectopic pregnancy
Possible side effects of COCPs:
- Irregular periods with spotting
- Absence of period
- Mood changes
- Sore and enlargement of breasts
- Weight gain
- Blood Clotting risks with DVT/PE
- Facial skin hyperpigmentation (Melasma)
Contraindication for taking COCPs:
- Allergy to the pill active ingredients
- Genetic or medical conditions that increase your risk of blood clotting
- History of blood clotting
- Migraine headache with aura (flashes of lights before headache),
migraine headache with neurological symptoms (weakness or numbness or speech disturbances)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Breast cancer
- Active liver disease
Which COCPs should I take?
You should discuss this with your doctor. Your doctor will discuss with and guide you on the choices, taking into consideration your personal medical histories, your personal preference, needs, and concerns.
How to start COCPs?
- If you start taking the tablets from day 1 of your menstrual period, this will protect you immediately from pregnancy, and you don’t need additional contraception methods.
- If you start on day 2-5 of your menstrual period, you will need an additional contraception method such as a condom for seven days for effective prevention of pregnancy.
If you are switching COCPs pills from another type of COCPs or other forms of contraception, please speak to your doctor beforehand.
What happens if I missed my pills?
Do consult your doctor if you missed your pills. This might render the medicine ineffective.