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Women and Oral Contraceptives

Oral Contraceptives

RUTH UDEMBA interviews OLADAPO ADEJUWON, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist on contraceptives and its risks.

What is an Oral contraceptive?

Oral contraceptive or oral pills are a form of hormonal contraception used mainly by women although there are pills for men. Oral contraceptives have two forms with one of the types being a combination of both oestrogen and progesterone in low doses, while the second type is progesterone- based only pills usually employed as emergency contraceptives.

The oral pill prevents pregnancy basically by inhibiting ovulation by, thinning out the endometrium and thickening the cervical mucus making it less penetrable by sperm cells.

Although these pills have no basic body requirement as it is not an abortion pill used in pregnancy, the contraceptive that contain both progesterone and oestrogen should not be used by patients having migraine headaches and liver problems. Also it should not be used by people who are smokers, hypertensive and HIV patients on anti-HIV medications.


What are the side effects of oral contraceptive?

An overdose of either type of oral contraceptives is a rare occurrence. However, nausea and vomiting may take place early, as well as menstrual irregularities and rarely infertility in the case of emergency pills which is advised to be administered 72 hours after intercourse for it to work.

Candidiasis (vaginal fungi infection) is also an effect of this method due to oestrogen dominance apparent in the pill and although there are no basic routine needed before the administration of this medication, there are some risks of weight gain especially with the combined pills, so it is better for a person to prevent that by whatever means possible.

Allergic reactions are not quite common with the contraceptive pills because they are simply hormones that our bodies manufacture in the first place. However, those contraindications mentioned have to be keenly ruled out first to prevent any major effect on the body as every human being has various body types.


What is the most advisable family planning method?

There is no ideal contraceptive as they all have one issue or the other. However, the one that is close to being ideal is tubal sterilization (tubectomy) especially for a woman that has completed her family otherwise; she may have to choose any other available option. Once you rule out those contraindications to hormonal contraceptives in all its’ ramification then it is safe for the patient.

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