In today's generation, more and more teenagers know about birth control pills and want to use it to prevent pregnancy in their early age. According to the Health and Wellness Resource Center, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Population Information Program stated, "more than 18 million US women rely on birth control pills, also called oral contraceptives, as their birth control method. Today, American women have more than 40 different oral contraceptive products from which to choose" ("Birth Control Pills; Overview" 1). However, some parents and teens are scared and do not know what types of oral contraceptives are available, what are the side effects, the risks, or the benefits from using oral contraceptives. While parents and some teenagers fear health risks associated with oral contraceptives, the risks are minor, and teenage girls who are sexually active should be encouraged to continue to take them in order to avoid pregnancies.
First of all, oral contraceptives are also called birth control pills. It keeps women from making an egg cell each month. It also keeps a fertilized egg from sticking and growing into a baby. Oral contraceptives are a method that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. The hormones used in oral contraceptives are estrogen and progesterone. According to the Healthy Women, JoAnn Manson, MD, Dr PH said, "estrogen refers to a group of hormones that play an essential role in the growth and development of female sexual characteristics and the reproductive process" (Manson). According to Steven Goldstein, MD, progesterone is "a hormone that stimulates and regulates important functions in the human bodies, playing a role in maintaining pregnancy, preparing the body for conception, and regulating the monthly menstrual cycle". Progestin is the effective synthetic versions of progesterone and has been around since the 1950s (Goldstein). Moreover, the more estrogen in the pill is the better the birth-control effect. However, the more estrogen in the pill creates more side effects to the female body.
There are many different types oral contraceptive available today. However, the most three common types of oral contraceptives are the progestin-only pills, the combination pills, and the emergency contraceptive pills. Each of them has different risks, effects, and amounts of dosage. Progestin-only pills are also called the mini-pills; these pills contain only progestin. Because they do not contain estrogen, they are less effective than the combination pills. The advantages of progestin-only pills are decreased menstrual blood loss, cramps, and pain ("Birth Control Pills"). However, the disadvantages of it are irregular bleeding patterns, must be taken at the same time every day, and possible to have some side effect like abdominal pain, headaches, irregular bleeding, or absence of a monthly period ("Birth Control Pills"). The progestin-only pills are the best option for teenagers who cannot use estrogen and who can remember to take the pills at the same time every day.
On the other hand, most of the times when people say about the term "birth control pill" they often refer to the combination pills because it contains both progestin and estrogen ("Birth Control Pills; Overview"). Combination pills include monophasic pills and multiphasic pills. Monophasic pills are the pills that contain the same amount of estrogen and progestin in 21 active pills throughout the entire cycle of 28 days ("Understanding Birth Control Medications" 3). Other types of combination pills are the multiphasic pills. Multiphasic pills are also known as biphasic and triphasic pills which contain varied amount of estrogen and progesterone depending on the pill-taking day schedule ("Birth Control Pills; Overview"). It is designed to help women prevent and reduce any unwanted side effects by getting the right amount of hormones. The major advantages of combination pills are preventing pregnancies that occur outside the uterus, reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, decreasing menstrual blood loss, pain, and cramps ("Birth Control Pills, Overview"). However, the disadvantages of the pills are they may causes blood clots, hypertension, and may contribute to the formation of gallstones and rare benign liver tumors ("Birth Control Pills, Overview"). Moreover, some possible side effects can be nausea and vomiting, headaches, irregular bleeding, weight gain or weight loss due to the changes in eating habits, breast tenderness, and increased breast size ("Birth Control Pills, Overview"). The combination pill is the most effective pill and common choice for teen-aged girls; however, before using it they should ask their doctor what kind of combination pill works best for them.
Another type of oral contraceptive pills are emergency pills also known as the "morning-after pill." Emergency contraceptive pills are not intended to be used regularly like other contraceptives. People usually use it to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Examples of unprotected sex are when standard contraceptives failed, forgot to the birth control pills, or did not use any birth control method. According to the Health and Wellness Resource Center, Plan B is one of the emergency pills that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved, which contains the higher dose of progestin levonorgestrel compare to many other birth control pills ("Birth Control Pills, Overview"). The first dose of Plan B must be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours of the unprotected sex then the second dose is taking 12 hours later. Moreover, studies find that Plan B is effective up to 120 hours after unprotected sex if taken both pills are taking at the same time ("Birth Control Pills, Overview"). The advantages of emergency contraceptive pills are reducing the chance of unintended pregnancy; they are available over the counter for women 18 and over at any pharmacy; and they can be obtained in advance of an emergency. The disadvantages are timing because the first dose must be taken within 120 hour after having unprotected intercourse. Then sooner a woman takes them, the more effective they are. Some sides effects can be are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and headache ("Birth Control Pills, Overview"). So teenagers should consider using emergency pills only in the emergency cases, they should not use it like regular birth control pills.
Second, parent and some teenager girls fear the risks of using oral contraceptive pills. Heart attack is one of the chances of using birth control pills; however, the chances of having heart attack are small, less than three additional heart attacks per million American women per year if they do not smoke ("Birth Control Pills"). According to Dominguez, who is the officer on the boards of directors of National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH), in January 2009, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology stated, "newer formulations of birth control pills do not increase the risk of heart attack, but they do increase the risk of blood clots" (Dominguez). Ischemic stroke is another risk when using birth control pills; however, the risk is low for young healthy women, who do not smoke and have persistent blood pressure problems (Dominguez). So that means someone who smokes while taking birth control pills or going to take birth control pills should consider about stop smoking. Moreover, if someone using some other medicines while taking birth control pills, it can affect the way of the pills work. It may not protect against pregnancy if someone is taking certain antibiotics or medicines for seizures or fungal infections (Dominguez). Therefore, teenagers who are taking other medicine while taking birth control pills should ask their healthcare doctor is that medicine is okay to use with birth control pills. Moreover, the common misconception, especially among very young women is birth control pills are protection against everything. As far as today, birth control pills do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or AIDS. So in order to protect against from those sexually transmitted diseases teenager girls should also use condoms while using birth controls pills.
Finally, compared to the minor risks and some disadvantages of oral contraceptives, the benefit s of oral contraceptives are more important. First of all, oral contraceptive can get up to ninety-nine percent effective on preventing pregnancy. For teen-aged girls who are sexually active oral contraceptives are the most beneficial because they are too young to have a baby. Moreover, using oral contraceptives can protect women and young girl from cancer like ovarian, uterine, and possibly from colorectal (Dominguez). Also, protect women and young girls from ovarian cysts, and help to improve acne and menstrual cycle (Dominguez).
In conclusions, oral contraceptives are one of the best methods to prevent pregnancy in the early age for female teenager who sexually active and also for those who are not sexually active. Having a baby at the young age will take away many opportunities and the precious moments in the teen-aged girls' life. Moreover, using birth control pills can actually helps to decreased menstrual blood loss, cramps, and pain. Also oral contraceptives reduce the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, and prevent pregnancies that occur outside the uterus. Even though there are some side effects and risk when teen-aged girls start to use oral contraceptive pills, the side effects and risk are minor. Therefore, in order to avoid and prevent pregnancies teenage girls who are sexually active should be encouraged more to use oral contraceptive pills.
- "Birth Control Pills; Overview." Health and Wellness Resource Center 29 May 2007. 1 Dec. 2009. <http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/HWRC?locID=lincclin_hcc>. Keyword: Birth Control Pills; Overview.
- Dominguez, Linda. "Birth Control Pills." Healthy Women August 2003. 4 Dec. 2009. <http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/birth-control-pills>.
- Goldstein, Steven. "Progesterone." Healthy Women 16 April 2009. 3 Dec. 2009. <http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/progesterone>.
- Manson, JoAnn. "Estrogen." Healthy Women 14 May 2009. 3 Dec. 2009. <http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/estrogen>.
- "Understanding Birth Control Medications (Contraceptives)." emedicinehealth 2009. 5 Dec. 2009 <http://www.emedicinehealth.com/understanding_birth_control_medications_contrace/page3_em.htm>.