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You and the Pill: More choices for today's woman (also available in Spanish )

You and the Pill
More choices for today's woman
What you need to know about oral contraceptives
Oral contraceptives, often referred to as the Pill, are the most widely used and effective method of birth control available today. Many types of oral contraceptives are available, sometimes making it hard to know which one will be right for you.

The Women's Health Division of Watson Pharma, Inc., has put together this brochure to help give you a basic understanding of the Pill, how it works, and what types are available to you.

However, this brochure cannot provide all the facts about the pill or address all the potential risks associated with taking oral contraceptives. As always, you should discuss this information with your doctor or primary healthcare provider, who can best determine what is appropriate for you.

What is the Pill?
What are the different types?

The Pill is a reversible, highly effective prescription method of birth control. It is a monthly series of pills that is taken orally as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

The progestin and estrogen in the Pill are synthetic versions of progesterone and estrogen, two sex hormones that are produced naturally in a woman's body and regulate a woman's menstrual cycles. The Pill is divided into two basic types, depending on the synthetic (man-made) hormones they contain. One type contains two hormones, progestin and estrogen, and is called a "Combination Pill." The second type of Pill contains only progestin and is called the "Progestin-only Pill" or POP.

Combination pills can be further divided into monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic pills. With monophasic pills, the dose of the estrogen and progestin remains the same with each pill throughout the month. Biphasic and triphasic pills, on the other hand, vary the levels of the hormones two or three times during the woman's menstrual cycle, so pills that are taken at the beginning of the month may have different levels of estrogen and progestin than the pills that are taken during the middle and/or end of the month. Today, triphasics are the most commonly prescribed type of oral contraceptives. Each type of combination pill has certain advantages and disadvantages so it is important that you speak with your healthcare provider to determine which combination may be best for you.

The POP contains only progestin and is suitable for women who cannot take birth control pills that contain estrogen, such as nursing mothers or women with a history of blood clots.

How does the Pill work?

The two types of Pill work slightly differently to prevent pregnancy. With the Combination Pill, the estrogen prevents pregnancy by stopping the development of the egg in the ovary. The progestin component may prevent the egg from being released by the ovary in about one-half of users, and thickens the mucus in the cervix to help prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Progestin may also slow the movement of the egg through the fallopian tubes. The POP relies fully on the activity of progestin to prevent pregnancy.

Both the Combination Pill and the POP may also prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus (womb).

How do I take the Pill?
Pills are available in packs of 21 and 28.

With 21-pill packages, you should take one pill at the same time each day for 21 days. For the next 7 days, you will not take any pills. During this week, you will have your period. Then, you will start a new pack of pills, on the same day of the week that you started your first pack.

With 28-pill packages, you will take one pill at the same time each day for 28 days. When all the pills in the pack have been taken, you can start a new pack. The last seven pills in the 28-pill packages do not contain any hormones. They are in the package so that you can take one pill each day and not have to remember when to take a pill and when not to. During the week that you take the seven pills with no hormones, you will have your period.

What are the benefits of the Pill?
The Pill is a safe way to prevent pregnancy for most women. It is convenient to use and does not interrupt sex. The Combination Pill is also believed to provide shorter, more regular periods with fewer cramps and may provide some protection against ovarian cysts, noncancerous breast tumors, and anemia.

But remember, the Pill helps prevent pregnancy. It does not protect you against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases. If you have any additional questions, you should discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Who should not take the Pill?
You should not take the Pill if you:
  • Smoke more than 15 cigarettes a day and are 35 or older
  • Have a history of heart attack or stroke
  • Have had blood clots or inflammation of the veins
  • Have had an abnormal growth or cancer of the breast or uterus
  • Have chest pain (angina pectoris)
  • Have liver disease
  • Experience yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin (jaundice) during pregnancy or prior pill use
  • Think you might be pregnant
  • Have undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding
Do I need other methods of contraception while using the Pill? 
You will need to use back-up methods of contraception (condoms, spermicides, etc.) only for the first 7 days after you begin your initial pack of pills. You will also need to use other forms of contraception if you forget to take a pill.

Are there side effects when taking the Pill?
Some women may experience side effects while taking the Pill. These include irregular bleeding for the first few months, changes in appetite, depression, headaches and/or dizziness, nausea, missed periods, weight changes, high blood pressure, and breast tenderness.

If any of the above symptoms continue you should contact your healthcare provider. Many times these symptoms can be eased by changing the type of Pill that you take.

Can I take other medicines while taking the Pill?

If you take some medications, including some antibiotics, your pills may not work as well. Use a backup method (such as condoms or foam) until you check with your healthcare provider.

What should I do if I forget to take a Pill?
If you forget to take one pill, take it as soon as you remember. Then take your next Pill at the regular time, even if it means you may have to take two pills on the same day. If you forget to take more than one pill, consult your healthcare provider immediately and use alternative forms of birth control (condoms, sponge, etc.). Remember, missing pills or taking your pill late may increase your chance of becoming pregnant. For more information, consult the Detailed Patient Labeling section of the prescribing information enclosed with your prescription.

Is spotting or bleeding between periods normal?

Some women have spotting or light bleeding between their periods. If you experience spotting or light bleeding, continue to take your pills. This problem usually resolves within the first three months. Spotting does not usually mean that your birth control pills are not working. If the problem persists, contact your healthcare provider.

When considering oral contraception, ask your healthcare provider about Watson oral contraceptives: High-quality, effective oral contraceptives that meet your budget
Watson is a leader in providing high-quality, competitively priced women's healthcare products.

We offer an extensive line of quality oral contraceptives and many are competitively priced to the brands you may already know. Whether it is the Combination Pill or POP, monophasic or triphasic, Watson may have the oral contraceptive that's appropriate for you.

All Watson oral contraceptives are produced at the high quality and efficacy standards of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So with Watson, you have confidence in your pills' efficacy when used as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Click here to see US Prescribing information.

Getting the right Pill for you
You must see a healthcare provider to find out whether you can take the Pill and which one of the many available Pills is appropriate for you. Your healthcare provider will discuss your medical history with you, check your blood pressure, and give you any other medical exam that may be needed. And remember to ask about oral contraceptives from Watson. Your doctor can choose which one of the many effective pills is just right for you.

*Brand names are the trademarks of the products' manufacturers and/or owners.
**Products illustrated may not appear at actual size and/or exact color.
Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

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This site is intended for US residents only. Site Last Updated: 2010-12-17