INSTRUCTIONS FOR PILL USERS Birth control pills offer you no protection against the virus which causes AIDS, nor do they provide a physical barrier to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR PILL USERS
Birth control pills offer you no protection against the virus
which causes AIDS, nor do they provide a physical
barrier to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
If you anticipate that you may have more than
one partner in the years ahead and you are going to use birth
control pills, strongly consider using spermicidal
condoms consistently. Choose a pattern of sexual activity
that protects you from infection with the AIDS virus.
Once infected, you will not have a second opportunity to
make this choice...once infected you will be infected
1. The pill works primarily by stopping ovulation (release
of an egg). If no egg meets the sperm, pregnancy
cannot occur. For patients who follow these directions
carefully, the pill is the most effective reversible
contraceptive currently available.
2. Choose a backup method of birth control (such as
condoms and foam) to use with your first pack of pills
because the pill may not fully protect you from
pregnancy during the first month. Keep this backup
method handy all the time and learn to use it correctly
in case you:
* Run out of pills.
* Forget your pills.
* Experience any of the pill danger signals and
discontinue pill use.
* Want protection from transmission of sexually
transmitted infections, most notably the virus
which causes AIDS (condoms provide the best
protection from disease transmission).
3. Start your pills the way your provider suggests. Either
start your first pack of pills on the first day of bleeding
during your period or on the first Sunday after your
4. Take one pill a day until you finish the pack. Then, if
you are using a 28-day pack, begin a new pack
immediately. Skip no days between packages.
NUISANCE SIDE EFFECTS: Some side effects are very
common during the first few months of pill use. Usually these
will improve or disappear within three months. Some
common side effects are:
nausea or vomiting break-through bleeding between periods
weight gain or loss moodiness
bloating missing a period
breast tenderness increased vaginal discharge but not with
itching or burning
skin changes (acne or darkening of the skin on the face - this
may not disappear even if you stop using the pill)
5. Try to associate taking your pill with something that
you do every day, like going to bed, eating a meal, or
brushing your teeth. Establishing a regular routine
may make it easier to remember. Pills work best if you
take one about the same time every day in order to
keep a steady level of hormones in your system.
6. Check your pack of birth control pills each morning to
make sure you took your pill the day before.
7. If you have bleeding between periods, try to take your
pills at the same time every day. If you have spotting
(light bleeding between periods) for several cycles, you
may want to call your clinician to see whether you
need a different pill. Spotting is more likely to occur
with the current low-dose control pills. Because
spotting is generally not an ominous sign in young
women, your clinician may take a "watch and wait"
approach if you are not concerned or inconvenienced.
If you suddenly begin to have bleeding between
periods, have not previously had this problem, and
have not missed pills or taken pills late, consider
having your doctor check you for an infection. Spotting
between periods may also signal decreased pill
effectiveness. Some clinicians recommend a backup
contraceptive for women experiencing spotting on pills,
especially if the woman is taking medication which may
lower pill effectiveness.
8. The effectiveness of birth control pills may be slightly
decreased by a number of drugs that change
gastrointestinal absorption or liver function, such as
rifampin for tuberculosis, Dilantin (phenytoin),
carbamazepine, ampicillin or tetracycline.
9. If you forget to take your birth control pill, follow the
*If you miss 1 pill but remember within 12 hours,
take the forgotten pill immediately. (For
example, if you usually take your pill at night but
forget, then take it the next morning.) Take
your next pill at the usual time, even if it means
taking 2 pills in one day.
*If you miss 1 pill and the delay is longer than
12 hours, take the forgotten pill at night and
next pill at the usual time. Complete the rest of
your cycle as you normally would and FOLLOW
THE 14 DAY RULE: For the next 14 days, use
another effective backup method for the full 14
days even if you begin a new pack or have your
period. Do not pay attention about any
breakthrough bleeding or spotting; this is
*If you miss 2 pills, take 2 pills at once.
Although you may feel queasy or nauseated by
taking two pills, your chances of becoming
pregnant will be reduced. After you take the 2
pills, remove and discard the other "forgotten"
pills. Thus the next pill you take will be the one
you would have normally taken had you not
forgotten the other pills. Again, FOLLOW THE
14 DAY RULE: Use another effective method of
birth control for an entire 14 days.
10. If you have diarrhea or vomiting, use your backup
method of birth control until your next period. Start
using a backup method on your first day of diarrhea or
vomiting. Many women experience nausea the first
month they take pills. If you experience nausea, try
taking pills at night or with food.
11. Periods tend to be short and scanty on the pills and you
may not see fresh blood at all. A drop of blood or a brown
brown smudge on your tampon or underwear is considered a
12. If you do not have your menstrual period when expected while
taking birth control pills, you may want to consult your
* If you have not missed any pills and you miss 1 period
without any signs of pregnancy, pregnancy is very
unlikely. Many women taking birth control pills
occasionally miss 1 period. Call the clinic if you are
worried. You are fairly safe and can start a new
package of pills at the regularly scheduled time.
* If you forget 1 or more pills and miss a period, you
should stop taking the pills and use another method of
birth control. Contact your clinic for a pelvic
examination or a sensitive pregnancy test.
* If you miss 2 periods in a row, come to clinic for a
pregnancy test before resuming the pill, even if you
took your pills every day.
13. If you do become pregnant while taking birth control pills,
you must decide whether you want to have a child at this
time or, alternatively, whether abortion is an option for
you. The risk of having a baby with birth defects may be
increased by taking pills during the first couple of months
of pregnancy; although if an increased risk exists, it is
very, very small.
14. If you decide you want to become pregnant, stop taking
pills. You may wish to use another reliable method of birth
control until you have two or three normal menstrual periods
off the pill so that when you become pregnant, your date of
delivery might be accurately calculated.
15. If you see any clinician for any reason, be sure to mention
that you are on birth control pills, particularly if you are
admitted to the hospital.
16. If you notice any pronounced mood changes - depression,
irritability or change in sex drive - see your clinician.
Switching pill brands may help. Also, taking 100 mg Vitamin
B6 daily may decrease the effect of the pill in producing
17. Read the new pill package insert for women on pills. It
provides a balanced picture of risks and benefits of pills.
18 Learn the pill danger signs. Any 1 of 5 symptoms may mean
that you are in serious trouble. Note that the first letter
of each symptom spell out the word "ACHES".
EARLY PILL DANGER SIGNS
A * Abdominal pain (severe)
C * Chest pain (severe), cough, shortness of breath
H * Headache (severe) dizziness, weakness, or numbness
E * Eye problems (vision loss of blurring) speech problems
S * Severe leg pain (calf or thigh)
See your clinician if you have any of these problems, or if you
develop depression, yellow jaundice or a breast lump.
NOTE: BIRTH CONTROL USERS NEED TO RETURN TO THE STUDENT HEALTH
SERVICE FOR A BLOOD PRESSURE CHECK AND TREATMENT AFTER THE FIRST
3 MONTHS ON THE PILL.
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