Every forward-looking couple knows that a woman must not be allowed to have all the numbers of children she could have in a lifetime.
Apart from the fact that too many childbirths can lessen a woman’s quality of life — if she doesn’t die from the complications of multiple pregnancies — the economic trends also suggest that in order to give your children the best, the fewer the number you have, the better for all of you in the relationship.
While many have their disdain for the use of birth control pills, experts in reproductive health say that there are many health benefits that are inherent in the proper use of birth control pills when administered under the supervision of a competent health care provider.
According to Consultant Gynaecologist, Dr. Dominic Emeka, if a woman suffers from irregular menstruation, a birth control pill can be used to set things in order.
“Because a birth control pill contains progesterone-like medication, it can help regulate the menstrual cycle and protect the lining of the uterus against pre-cancer or cancer,” Emeka says.
Experts describe progesterone as a hormone that stimulates and regulates various functions in a woman’s body.
Its functions include maintenance of pregnancy and regulating a woman’s sexual desire; while it also prepares the body for conception and pregnancy.
Progesterone is produced variously in the adrenal glands, ovaries and also in the placenta when a woman is pregnant. It also regulates the monthly menstrual cycle. That is why this chemical is an active ingredient in the formulation of birth control pills.
Emeka adds that birth control pills relieve cramping that most women experience during their period.
“The chemical that causes cramping is called prostaglandin and it is produced in the uterus. The administration of birth control pills can reduce the amount of this chemical and thus relieve a woman of the cramps,” Emeka assures.
Indeed, experts at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine say that women who have used birth control pills have been found to have fewer cases of anaemia, as well as reduced risks of ovarian and uterine cancers.
“These beneficial effects occur because the birth control pill works by decreasing the number of ovulations, amount of menstrual blood flow, and frequency of periods,” the society says.
However, these benefits can be eroded and people can get pregnant if birth control pills are not handled with care. What are the things that could make birth control pill fail?
Emeka agrees that using birth control pills can be tiresome for many women, since thy have to pop the pill daily.
“The easiest way for a woman to get pregnant even while on the pill is for her to miss a dose. Missing a pill does not necessarily mean that a women will become pregnant; but it does mean that she could get pregnant, especially if it’s the first active pill in the pack” the specialist warns.
He adds that leaving a gap between the end of one pack and the start of the next one will put a woman at a higher risk of pregnancy.
General Practitioner, Dr. Idayat Bello, says certain digestive disorders such asinflammatory bowel disease could prevent an individual from digesting foods and drugs.
“Certain bowel conditions may prevent the body from absorbing any oral medication correctly, including the pill,” Bello says; adding, “chronic diarrhoea can also affect absorption. And if you’ve had serious diarrhoea or vomiting for two or more days, you should act as though you’ve missed a pill.”
She counsels women who have digestive disorders to consider non-oral types of family planning system.
Bello says that in general, drugs interact with one another whenever an individual has to take combination drugs for an ailment. Worse, she says, is the fact that when a woman has several health issues for which she takes different medications, even under a doctor’s supervision, there may be counter-reactions in the way her body absorbs the drugs.
“Some antibiotics are like that. Certain antibiotics that are used to treat or prevent diseases such as tuberculosis and meningitis can inhibit the absorption of birth control pill.
“The same goes for certain medications that are indicated for the treatment of epilepsy, migraines and HIV.
“What this implies is that before you start any new medication, let your doctor know what kind of birth control pill you are using, so that he can rightly determine the safety of drug interactions when he makes the prescription,” Bello says.
Bello expresses concerns about people who take herbal preparations in addition to the orthodox medications they may be using.
She warns that certain herbal preparations — even in tablet or capsule form — can increase the breakdown of oestrogen, thereby making oral contraception less effective.
The bottom line: use every drug as prescribed.