Are the pills safe? Should I keep taking them?
The birth control pills, (oral contraceptives) are very safe. They have been available for about 50 yrs and have been extensively tested. Most contain 2 hormones, estrogen and a progestin.
The hormones in the pills work by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary and making the cervical mucus thicker. The estrogen and progestin also make the lining of the uterus thinner and the cervical mucus thicker keeping the sperm from getting to the egg that may have already been released when the woman started the pills.
Of course, no medication will ever be 100% safe and if a woman is over 35 and smokes, she should not use the birth control pills. This woman would be at increased risks of heart attack or stroke already and if she adds birth control pills, she increases her risk. Also women with poorly controlled hypertension, poorly controlled diabetes or who have already had a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in legs or lungs should not use the pills.
Researchers published a study in 2012 that found that there may be an increase of 1 woman per 10,000 women younger than 50 who might have a stroke or heart attack if they use birth control pills.
A certain type of pill that contains the progestin drospirenone may also increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in susceptible women.
Taken properly, the birth control pills can be 99% effective. The risks of an unintended pregnancy may be considerable for the mother and for the baby.
The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently suggested that because of this, their safety and the increased number of unintended pregnancies, that birth control pills should be available without a prescription.