How Do Oral Contraceptives Work

birth_control pillwoman.jpg

In order to fully understand the question how do oral contraceptives work you must know about the different types of oral contraceptives. Yes, all oral contraceptives come in a pill and you pop one a day to prevent pregnancy but not all women can take any birth control pill and go on her merry carefree way.

In this article, we will look at different types of birth control pills and answer the question how do oral contraceptives work so you are better prepared and have the knowledge you need to choose the right oral contraceptive.

How Do Oral Contraceptives Work - Combination Pill

The combination birth control pill is the pill most women take. It has 28 pills in each package. Twenty-one of the pills contain the two hormones and the seven remaining pills are “sugar” pills the last seven pills are just a reminder to continue to take the pill. Combination birth control pills are made from the hormones estrogen and progesterone. The pills work by preventing ovulation, the lining of the uterus becomes thinner making it harder for the egg to attach to the uterus wall in the unlikely event an egg is fertilized and the pill also works by thickening the mucus in the cervix so the sperm has a harder time fertilizing the egg. There is also a twenty-one day packet these do not continue the seven days worth of “sugar” pills. Finally, there is a 91-day packet this type of birth control pills allows a woman to go three months without a period.

How Do Oral Contraceptives Work - Progestin Only Pill

The progestin only pill is also commonly called the minipill. The progestin only pill contains a small dose of the hormone progestin. It works by thinning the uterus lining so a fertilized egg cannot attach to the uterus and thickening the cervix mucus so the sperm has a difficult time getting to the egg. Unlike the combination pill, the progestin pill does not always stop ovulation making the pill only about eighty percent effective.

How Do Oral Contraceptives Work - General Information

The pills need to be taken at the same time everyday to keep the hormone level from dropping. If you are a little late taking your pill you should be fine. If you miss a pill, take it as soon as you remember and if it is your fertile time of the month use a back up method such as a condom until you are no longer fertile just to be safe. All oral contraceptives come with side effects some women are not affected at all by them and other experience mild to severe side effects. If you experience severe side effects, stop taking the pill (use another method of birth control) and consult your doctor or get emergency treatment. This concludes the article, on how do oral contraceptives work I hope all of your questions have been answered

Related Articles

How Does Emergency Contraception Work?


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine. We encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician or nutritionist if they have any concerns regarding health issues related to diet, personal image and any other topics discussed on this site. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.