Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - HEALTH -

It has been 50 years since the con­tra­cep­tive pill changed the way Aus­tralians made love and, as it is 99.7 per cent ef­fec­tive (when used cor­rectly) at pre­vent­ing preg­nancy, when we had ba­bies. The 2005 House­hold, In­come and Labour Dy­nam­ics (HILDA) Sur­vey found that 39 per cent of women aged 18 to 44 used oral con­tra­cep­tives.

There are more than 30 con­tra­cep­tive pill brands in Aus­tralia. They can be di­vided into two types: the com­bined pill and mini pill, says Dr Deb­o­rah Bate­son, Fam­ily Plan­ning NSW se­nior med­i­cal co­or­di­na­tor.

“The dif­fer­ence is the hor­mones the pills con­tain,” Dr Bate­son says. “The com­bined pill con­tains oe­stro­gen and a pro­gesto­gen, which mainly work by pre­vent­ing eggs be­ing re­leased, but they also cause the mu­cous of the cervix to thicken, mak­ing it hard for sperm to ‘swim’ up into the uterus, and keep the lin­ing of the womb thin­ner, so that if an egg es­capes, it is less likely to at­tach to the womb wall.

“The mini pill is a pro­gesto­gen-only pill that usu­ally doesn’t stop ovu­la­tion but works mainly by thick­en­ing cer­vi­cal mu­cous and chang­ing the uter­ine or womb lin­ing, so fer­tilised eggs can’t im­plant.”

So which pill is right for you? Dr Bate­son says there isn’t a one-size-fits-all ap­proach, as pills can pro­duce dif­fer­ent side ef­fects in dif­fer­ent women. “Of­ten women have to try a few pills to get the one that works for them,” Dr Bate­son says. “How­ever, it is worth per­se­ver­ing to get the right pill for your body.” Monopha­sic com­bined pills con­tain­ing lev­onorgestrel

Mi­crog­y­non, Levlen, Nordette, Monofeme. These are the “go to” pill for doc­tors as they have been thor­oughly tested. Monopha­sic means each tablet has the same dose of hor­mones. You take one tablet ev­ery day for 21 days with a seven-day break.

Hor­mone lev­els drop, re­sult­ing in a with­drawal bleed sim­i­lar to a pe­riod. Newer pills con­tain a 20mi­cro­gram oe­stro­gen dose in­stead of 30 mi­cro­grams.

In­ex­pen­sive, well-tested pills that suit many women and may help skin prob­lems.

Some women get breast ten­der­ness, mood and skin changes or nau­sea. They may need to switch to a 20-mi­cro­gram oe­stro­gen pill or a dif­fer­ent type of pro­gesto­gen.

Women go­ing on the pill for the first time as they are the “ev­ery-woman” pills. Com­bined pills con­tain­ing norethis­terone

Norimin, Brevi­nor. Older pills con­tain the pro­gesto­gen norethis­terone, which can help to con­trol acne and heavy pe­ri­ods.

They are in­ex­pen­sive and can be use­ful for prob­lem skin and heavy, painful pe­ri­ods. They may have side ef­fects such as nau­sea.

Those prone to acne and ex­cess hair.

Com­bined pills con­tain­ing drospirenone Visit your doc­tor or fam­ily plan­ning clinic to find out more about which pill suits you. You can also call the Fam­ily Plan­ning NSW Health­line on 1300 658 886 or visit www.fp­nsw.org.au for ad­vice. Women who find it dif­fi­cult to re­mem­ber to take a pill ev­ery day may be bet­ter off with

a long-act­ing method such as an im­plant or IUD.

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