Dolly Doctor

Everything you need to know before going on the Pill

A beginner's guide.

By Grace Back

The Pill is a fairly ~magical and glorious~ invention which proves science is seriously cool. But before you take any form of medication it's important to do your research, so you can decide if it's the right for you #obvi. No doubt you've got A BUNCH of questions about the Pill and don't know who to ask, so it's a good thing DOLLY Doctor is here to give you a detailed rundown of what you need to know.

Firstly, how does it work?

There is a huge variety of different Pills out there, but they all fall into one of the two categories: 1) The combined pill (which contains a combination of two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone) works by stopping the ovary releasing an egg. 2) The mini pill contains only one hormone (progesterone). It works by thickening the cervical mucus, to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Your doc will let you know which is best for you.

Who is the pill best suited for?

The Pill is most suited to gals in committed and long-term relationships, who are aware of their bae's sexual history - coz it does NOT protect against STIs. So even if you are on The Pill, if you do not know your partner's sexual history you should defs also use another form of contraception that protects against STIs, such as a condom.

Does the Pill have any side effects?

Beware... the Pill does have some side effects but DW, if they occur you can always try a different brand (there are LOADS) until you find the right one for you.

The possible side effects include:

~ Irritability
~ Acne
~ Weight gain
~ Enlarged and tender breasts
~ Skin pigmentation

What are the benefits of taking the Pill?

UH, besides being 99% effective at preventing pregnancy there are other reasons to take the Pill. It can not only regulate your period, but also reduce acne and ease period pain.

Do you need a prescription to get the Pill? If so, how do I get it?

You do need to get a prescription from a doctor or Family Planning Clinic. Making an appointment might seem a bit scary, but remember that all consultations are confidential. Prices for the Pill range from $35 for a four-month supply for the older brands. Newer brands can cost up to $283 for a year’s supply. Your GP can help you decide which one if right for you and your budget.

How important is it to take the Pill at the exact same time every day?

The Pill is a super-effective form of birth control IF taken correctly. If taken at the same time errrryday, it's more than 99% effective. In other words, out of 100 women only one would fall pregnant while on the Pill and taking it correctly. Talk about results. BUT when it isn't taken at the same time everyday, chances of becoming preggas shoot up to about 9 out of 100 women a year. So set your phone alarm so you don't forget.

Another handy tip is to combine taking the Pill with another one of your routine daily activities, like brushing your teeth or eating dinner, as this will help you remember.

What should I do if I forget to take the Pill?

This depends on how many hours or days have gone by since you last took it. If you have a brain glitch, or god forbid your phone ran out of batt, here's a guide to follow:

If you missed taking the Pill by a few hours - take it as soon as you remember, and then take the next one at the normal scheduled time.

If you missed taking the Pill by a day - skip that one and take the next Pill at the scheduled time. Be mindful you may experience some breakthrough bleeding or spotting. If you plan to be sexually active, you will need to use another form of protection, such as a condom, until you have finished your next period as you will not be protected by the Pill.

Will I still get my period?

Believe it or not, that's actually up to you. If you want to say buh-bye to your period by skipping over the week of placebo pills, you won't cause yourself any harm. Skipping your period doesn't decrease the Pill's efficiency and because the lining of your uterus is thinned by the Pill there's less for your body to shed every month anyway. Still a bit unsure? Talk to your doc, who will be able to provide you with more info.

Important side note: Whether you're skipping your period or just getting started on the Pill, it is very likely you'll experience some light spotting (brownish-coloured bleeding when you're not expecting your period). If this persists for several months after you start the Pill, book into the doc and see if you should switch to a different brand of pill. Everybody's different and finding the right one can take time.

Is it safe to take the Pill with other medications?

Generally speaking, the Pill is safe to combine with other forms of medication. BUT, it is always a good idea to get your doc's opinion on this.

Is it safe to take the Pill when drinking alcohol?

We don't want to condone or encourage excessive drinking, but if you do want to have a sip of champagne with your parents at Christmas then DW as alcohol does not effect the Pill's ability to prevent pregnancy.