How do I know if birth control pills are right for me?

What's Inside?

Like all medications, OC pills aren’t for everyone. It is important to have a full conversation with your healthcare provider about your present medical conditions and possible risks before starting the pill.

In general, refrain from using the pill if the following applies to you:

  • You have given birth in the last 6 weeks.
  • You are over 35 years of age with a history of high blood pressure.
  • You are a chronic smoker, have been smoking more than 15 cigarettes per day for more than 2 years.
  • You have uncontrolled high blood pressure (if your higher and lower values are over 150/100 respectively).
  • You have a history of having spontaneous blood clots in veins of your lungs or limbs.
  • You have experienced any symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain/angina or are already diagnosed with heart disease, ischemic or valve related.
  • You have suffered from a stroke.
  • You suffer from migraine headache with an aura (ringing in the ears, blurred vision, dark spots in your vision)
  • You are diagnosed with or being treated for breast cancer.
  • You have been diagnosed with diabetes and have complications involving the eye, kidney or nerves.
  • You have liver cirrhosis or tumors.

Use with a lot of caution and ONLY after consent from healthcare provider if:

  • You have adequately controlled hypertension/high blood pressure.
  • You have hypertension (systolic 140 – 159mmHg or diastolic 90 – 99mmHg).
  • You have migraines and are over 35 years of age.
  • You have been diagnosed with mild cirrhosis of the liver or gallbladder disease or have symptoms such as jaundice, pale stools and itching of the skin.

Contraceptives containing Drosperinone:
Crisanta, Janya, Hervote, Yamini.

Contraceptives mentioned above contain a combination of estrogen and drosperinone. They should be avoided if patients have any kidney or liver problems or adrenal hormone deficiency.

Also look out for medications that may increase your blood potassium levels if taken with Drosperinone. Medications such as  Spironolactone, certain blood pressure medications such as NSAID’s (Pain Killers) ACE Inhibitors, Angiotensin Receptor Blockers, Beta Blockers are a few examples.

Pills and Other Medications

Certain medications may affect how your body processes the oral contraceptive and may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives in your body.

Talk to your doctor if:

  1. You are taking any medication for epilepsy (fits/seizures) such as phenobarbitone, phenytoin and primidone.

  2. You are taking medications for tuberculosis such as rifampcin or rifabutin.

  3. You are taking any chemotherapy.

  4. You are taking antibiotics such as azithromycin, erythromycin, Penicillin or antifungal such as ketoconazole.

Pills, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • If you are in the 1% of the population that gets pregnant despite using a pill correctly and have taken the pill in early pregnancy, i.e the first two months, there is very little chance that it will affect organs and growth in your baby.
  • It is a good idea to avoid the pill when you are breastfeeding for at least the first six weeks. The pill may decrease milk production temporarily. Small levels of hormones may even be passed on in your milk but will generally not affect your baby. Talk to your doctor before taking a combination pill. Progesterone only pills or mini pills are a great alternative.

Warning Signs

Visit your doctor or an emergency room if you experience any of the following:

  • Sudden back or jaw pain along with nausea, sweating, or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Achy soreness in your calf
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe pain in your belly or stomach
  • Severe splitting headache
  • Headaches that are different, worse, or happen more often than usual
  • Aura — (seeing flashing, zigzag lines)
  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes

Most of these instructions also apply to a NuvaRing or birth control patch. They are not limited to any particular brand of combined oral contraceptives.

Alternatives include progestin only contraception such as Implants, IUD’s, MiniPills, barrier methodsto name a few.