Family Planning Module: 5. Oral Contraceptive Methods

Study Session 5  Oral Contraceptive Methods


Oral contraceptives are pills that a woman takes by mouth to prevent the occurrence of pregnancy. The pills contain hormones which are similar to the natural female reproductive hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. Oral contraceptives are commonly known as ‘the pill’, ‘combined pill’, ‘birth control’ or ‘mini-pill’. The pill works mainly by changing the body’s hormone balance so that the woman does not ovulate. It is more effective if taken correctly and consistently. Most women can take the pill without developing any side-effects. However, a small number of women develop mild side-effects, which usually go away within days or weeks of starting the pill.

In this study session, you will learn about the concept, types and mechanism of action of oral contraceptive pills, their effectiveness, advantages and disadvantages, common side-effects, and the management of the side-effects of this method.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 5