What Are Birth Control Pills?
Louise Chang, MD
Dr. Chang completed her undergraduate degree at Stanford University and attended medical school at New York Medical College. She completed her internal medicine residency at Saint Vincent's Hospital in New York City, where she also served as a chief resident from 2001-2002. Dr. Chang is board-certified in internal medicine.
- What are birth control pills and how do they work?
- What are the different types of birth control pills?
- Are there differences among birth control pills?
- What are the side effects/health risks of birth control pills?
- What are the drug interactions of birth control pills?
What are birth control pills and how do they work?
Birth control pills are also known as oral contraceptives (OCs) or, simply, “the pill.” They offer protection against pregnancy by blocking the union of sperm and egg, thereby preventing conception.
Oral contraceptives or birth control pills contain synthetic female hormones. They work largely by preventing the release of an egg from an ovary, or ovulation. If no egg is released, there can be no pregnancy.
Stopping ovulation is not the only way birth control pills can work. The progestin or synthetic progesterone in birth control pills also changes the physical and chemical environment of the female reproductive tract, making it hostile for sperm.
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