Birth control pills contain a combination of hormones that is used to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). The pills contain a form of estrogen and a form of progesterone, which are both female hormones involved in conception. Birth control pills also have other effects that inhibit pregnancy. They cause the cervical mucous to thicken, which makes it harder for sperm to move toward the uterus, and they prevent the attachment of an egg to the uterus. Birth control pills are used to prevent pregnancy.
Take birth control pills exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you. Take the first pill in a package on the first day of your period or on the first Sunday after your period begins as directed by your doctor. Take one pill every day, no more than 24 hours after the last dose. Try to take the pills at a time that you will remember every day--for example, just before bed, with a meal, or first thing in the morning. Taking your pill at night may help to reduce any nausea or headache that you experience because of the hormones. If you are on a 28-day cycle, take one pill every day. When the pack runs out, throw it away. Begin a new pack the following day. The 28-day cycle contains seven pills that are placebos (with no active ingredients). These are "reminder" pills to keep you on a regular cycle. They are taken while you are menstruating. Follow your doctor's instructions about using a second form of birth control when you first start taking birth control pills, when you are taking antibiotics, or if you miss a pill. If you are unsure what to do in any of these cases, talk to your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor about how to ensure that you will not become pregnant.
If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking the birth control pills and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately: an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives); a blood clot in the lung (shortness of breath or pain in the chest); a blood clot in an arm or leg (pain, redness, swelling, or numbness of an arm or leg); high blood pressure (severe headache, flushing, blurred vision); or liver damage (yellowing of the skin or eyes, nausea, abdominal pain or discomfort, unusual bleeding or bruising, severe fatigue). Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take your birth control pills and talk to your doctor if you experience headache or dizziness; nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea; breakthrough bleeding; or breast tenderness. These side effects may disappear or be less noticeable after 1 to 3 months of birth control use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you find any side effect very bothersome. The side effects listed below generally occur very rarely and are not considered serious. If you experience any of the following, talk to your doctor when it is convenient: depression, changes in weight or appetite, vaginal yeast infection, changes in menstrual cycle, oily skin or acne, changes in your sex drive, lethargy or fatigue, bloating, eye changes (intolerance to contact lenses), changes in skin color, or changes in blood sugar. Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.
Avoid smoking. Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, or blood clot formation. Birth control pills do not offer protection from sexually transmitted diseases--including HIV or AIDS. Using a condom is the only way to obtain protection from these diseases.
Drospirenone may increase potassium in the body. Do not take drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol if you are taking any of the following medicines: a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox, others), ketoprofen (Orudis KT, Orudis, Oruvail, others), and others (when taken on a long-term basis for the treatment of arthritis or other problems); a potassium-sparing diuretic such as spironolactone (Aldactone, others), triamterene (Dyrenium, Dyazide, Maxzide, others), or amiloride (Midamor, others); a potassium supplement such as Klor-Con, K-Dur, K-Tab, Kaon, others; an ACE inhibitor such as captopril (Capoten), benazepril (Lotensin), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), enalapril (Vasotec), and others; an angiotensin II receptor antagonist such as candesartan (Atacand), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), telmisartan (Micardis), and others; or heparin. The medications listed above may affect potassium levels in the body. Some drugs may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills which may result in pregnancy. Use a second form of birth control if you are taking a penicillin antibiotic such as amoxicillin (Amoxil, Trimox, Wymox, Augmentin, others), ampicillin (Principen, Omnipen, Totacillin, others), bacampicillin (Spectrobid), carbenicillin (Geocillin), cloxacillin (Cloxapen, Tegopen), dicloxacillin (Dynapen, Dycill), nafcillin ( Nallpen, Unipen), oxacillin (Bactocill), or penicillin (Veetids, Pen-Vee K, Bicillin, Permapen, others); a tetracycline antibiotic such as demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Doryx, Doxy, Vibramycin, Vibra-Tabs, others), minocycline (Minocin), or tetracycline (Sumycin, Achromycin, Robitet, Panmycin, others); a barbiturate such as amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), mephobarbital (Mebaral), secobarbital (Seconal), or phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton); rifampin (Rifadin); atorvastatin (Lipitor); phenytoin (Dilantin); carbamazepine (Tegretol); or griseofulvin (Grisactin, Grifulvin V, Fulvicin P/G). Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with birth control pills. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
If you take too much:
Death is not likely to occur from an overdose of birth control pills. Consult a doctor, an emergency room, or a poison control left for advice. Symptoms of an overdose include nausea, vomiting, and menstrual bleeding.
Missing a pill increases the risk of becoming pregnant. Follow the exact directions on the package information insert concerning missed doses. If you do not have a package information insert, call your pharmacist, doctor, or nurse to find out what to do.
Store birth control pills at room temperature away from moisture and heat.