How Does the Contraceptive Pill Work?


Quick Answer

Birth control pills work by releasing hormones into a woman's body to alter her regular hormonal balance, causing the processes associated with menstruation to fail, according to TeensHealth. Without proper hormone levels, a woman is unable to prepare for pregnancy and a man's sperm has difficulty reaching the uterus.

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Full Answer

Many birth control pills completely prevent the act of ovulation, which means that an egg is never released from the ovaries to be fertilized, even if a man's sperm is somehow able to successfully reach the uterus, explains TeensHealth. If an egg is released, the uterus is likely no longer a hospitable place for the egg to attach due to the hormonal changes caused by oral contraceptives. Most birth control pills come in packs that allow for a seven-day break in hormone consumption, either by providing 28 pills with seven that don't have hormones, or by supplying a 21-day pack that requires a woman to go seven days without taking any pills.

Women have a choice between which type of pack they prefer to take, according to TeensHealth. Some contraceptive pills are designed to be taken for 12 weeks straight with only a single gap of seven days' worth of inactive pills. In this plan, a woman only menstruates once every three months.

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