Trust Logo

Supreme Court TRO on contraceptives not yet lifted

By Rachel Reyes

IN 2015, after vigorous lobbying from the Alliance for the Family Foundation, who were no doubt aided and abetted by powerful sympathizers in government and the Catholic Church, the Supreme Court imposed suspensions on 77 contraceptive products. Particularly targeted were hormonal contraceptive implants known as Implanon and Implanon NXT that safeguard women from pregnancy for up to 3 years. The temporary restraining order, or TRO, more perniciously, strangles the supply of all contraceptive drugs and devices by preventing the Food and Drug Administration from granting “any and all pending applications for registration and/or re-certification” of family planning products, with the exception of condoms.

This means, as Klaus Beck, the Philippines country representative of the UN Population Fund grimly explains, “none will be allowed to provide any family planning methods… whether it’s the government, the private sector, or UN agency it doesn’t matter, because it’s the product registration that would not be in place.”

By the end of this year, 62 percent of family planning products will no longer be available due to expired certificates of registration. By the end of next year, 90 percent of contraceptive brands will have been phased out. In 2020 there will be zero supplies in the Philippines. The Supreme Court’s continuing resistance to lift the TRO effectively imperils the lives of all women and propels the country toward a nightmarish future.

The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, popularly known as the RH Law, which protects and guarantees the right of all Filipinos to reproductive health and family planning services, was signed into force in 2012. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the RH Law in 2014 but not before striking out a number of sections to do with implementation. In June 2015, the Supreme Court issued its TRO ruling on contraceptive products. Before the year was over, ruthless senatorial schemers managed to hack offP1 billion from a budget of P3.27 billion for family planning that had been allocated to the Department of Health. In January 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 12 that seeks to achieve “zero unmet need for family planning,” a document that is hardly worth the paper it’s written on as long as the TRO remains in place. Why do we keep to the one step forward three steps back dance?

At the Family Planning 2020 (FP 2020) Focal Point Asia Regional Workshop held last week (May 11), feelings of exasperation and despair ran high. Suggestions to storm the Supreme Court, or file a complaint with the International Criminal Court claiming the State grossly violated women’s reproductive health rights, were bruited about. The number crunchers projected infographics showing that, in 2016, almost 6.5 million women depended on a modern method of contraception. At this rate, an estimated half a million unsafe abortions and almost 2 million unintended pregnancies would be averted. “By planning and spacing their births,” said Beth Schlachter of FP 2020, “women and their partners can responsibly care for the children they have, and ensure that they survive infancy and thrive.” It might sound like hackneyed talk but it remains nonetheless true.

In July 2012, at the first London Summit on Family Planning—“Global Leaders Unite to Provide 120 Million Women in the World’s Poorest Countries with Access to Contraceptives by 2020”—hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates stood up and challenged the Vatican. “As a Catholic I believe in this religion…But I also have to think about how we keep women alive. I believe in not letting women die.” Scientists agreed. Around the same time as the conference, the British Medical Journal The Lancet reported that better access to contraception could cut the maternal death rate in developing countries by a third.

So, what happens to a country where women’s access to modern methods of contraception has been removed?

Try to imagine, if you will, the Philippines in a not too distant future ruled by a totalitarian theocratic government. Under this regime, women are forbidden to use any form of modern contraception on pain of death. In such a society, contraceptives can only be obtained on the black market at extortionate cost. Those who are suspected of using or selling contraceptives are murdered by the police or by paid vigilantes. Most of these victims are dirt-poor small-time users and pushers of the pill. Nobody bothers to keep track of how many have been killed. The big fish who really rake in the money, the smugglers and traffickers of intrauterine devices, birth control injections and implants that prevent pregnancy for a few months or years, and fetch hundreds of thousands of pesos, are protected by corrupt police and government officials. Because of soaring population growth, the country’s economy has collapsed and the environment is destroyed. Statistics are no longer kept on teenage pregnancies and maternal deaths. Feral, starving bands of orphan children roam the streets at night. Finding discarded fetuses in garbage dumps is a normal and daily occurrence. And only extremely rich and well-connected women have access to birth control.

Riffing, somewhat tongue in cheek, on Margaret Atwood’s celebrated dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) that tells of a country where women have been thoroughly stripped of their human rights is, admittedly, a cheap trick. But unless the Supreme Court immediately lifts the TRO that it has slapped on contraceptive products, we may not be too far removed from the obscene sci-fi horror I have just invited you to imagine.

Source: The Manila Times

Supreme Court TRO on contraceptives not yet lifted

By Ana P. Santos

The Supreme Court’s 2nd Division has made an official decision related to the lifting of the Temporary Restraining Order the High Tribunal issued two years ago prohibiting the distribution of Implanon and Implanon NXT and restraining the Food and Drug Administration from granting pending applications for registration and or recertification of reproductive contraceptive drugs and products.

On April 26, 2017, the SC broke its silence on the TRO with the announcement that it had promulgated the 2nd Division’s decision which was attested by its chair, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and certified by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno. The ponente was Associate Justice Jose Mendoza. Other members of the division are Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen. Leonen made a separate and concurring decision.

The decision does not yet lift the TRO.

It gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 60 days to explain whether contraceptive drugs Implanon and Implanon NXT are abortifacients or not.

The TRO had been issued in response to pro-life advocates’ charge that the FDA had failed to consider their opposition to the contraceptive products.

The SC denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Health (DOH) asking for the lifting of the TRO on subdermal implants.

The decision said, “WHEREFORE, the August 24, 2016 Decision is MODIFIED. Accordingly, the Food and Drug Administration is ordered to consider the oppositions filed by the petitioners with respect to the listed drugs, including Implanon and Implanon NXT, based on the standards of the Reproductive Health Law, as construed in Imbong v. Ochon, and to decide the case within sixty (60) days from the date it will be deemed submitted for resolution.”

“After compliance with due process and upon promulgation of the decision of the Food and Drug Administration, the Temporary Restraining Order would be deemed lifted if the questioned drugs and devices are found not abortifacients.”

The Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act was passed in 2012 – after 14 years of deliberation and heated discussions in the two houses of Congress. But opponents of the bill asked the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the law, claiming that contraceptives are abortifacients. Hence the SC issued the TRO.

Hopes rose with President Duterte’s issuance of Executive Order on Jan. 9, 2017, ordering the full implementation of the RPRH law. The EO provides funds and support for modern family planning, in a bid to make modern family planning available to the poor by 2018.

“This Order aims to intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain ‘zero unmet need for modern family planning’ for all poor households by 2018,” reads Executive Order No. 12.

Among the strategies outlined in the four-page document is to do a comprehensive review of couples and individuals in need of family planning services. The government hopes to reduce poverty to 13 percent by the end of Duterte’s six-year term in 2022, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

The Philippines has six million women, of which two million are poor, that “have unmet need for any modern method of contraception, and remain unable to fully exercise their reproductive rights,” the Executive Order said, citing Philippine Statistics Authority findings from 2013.

“The procurement of contraceptives is critically important in order to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. If a woman is sexually active, effective family planning methods help her correctly and consistently plans birthing. Among reversible methods of birth control, intrauterine contraception and the contraceptive implant remain highly effective for years,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health and Research, contraceptives such as the pill and patch yields 6-12 pregnancies per 100 women in a year while implant and intrauterine device (IUD) produces less than one pregnancy per 100 women in a year. Meanwhile, condom is comparable to the least effectiveness of calendar method with 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women in a year.

“Aside from delaying birth, contraception reduces the need for abortion, especially unsafe abortion, as well as teenage pregnancy,” Dr. Perez said. Based from the WHO data, an estimated 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception because of limited choice of methods, limited access to contraception, cultural or religious opposition, and poor quality of available services.

Ben de Leon, president of The FORUM for Family Planning and Development says, “The onus is on the FDA to do its primary responsibility as defined in its charter R.A. No. 3720, as amended by R.A. No. 9711 to observe due process. The FDA then should immediately decide and issue certification/recertification of contraceptives and implants.”

There is good reason to hope that the FDA will show that the questioned contraceptives are not abortifacients. As the SC decision goes, once the FDA has complied with the order, the SC will submit the case for resolution.

Says De Leon: “If the petitioners fail to prove their claim that their questioned FP products are not abortifacients, the High Court also decided that FDA decisions are only appealable to the Office of the President, not in the Court of Appeals as earlier promulgated.” This, adds De Leon, “is advantageous to the RH community.”

Now, a few words about Implanon and Implanon NXT. These are similar contraceptive polymer rods about the size of a match stick that is implanted just below the skin of the inner, upper arm, and it slowly releases a contraceptive hormone, etonogesterel, preventing pregnancy of a woman for three years. It is not an abortifacient, as it only prevents pregnancy.

This system has a failure rate of about 0.05% each year. And the fact that it prevents conception for three years makes it a popular choice for planning the number of children women desire.

Let’s give our all-out support to the FDA, whose decision will be scrutinized as though through a prism by the High Tribunal.

Source: Rappler

SC lifting of TRO hinges on FDA decision

By Domini M. Torrevillas

The Supreme Court’s 2nd Division has made an official decision related to the lifting of the Temporary Restraining Order the High Tribunal issued two years ago prohibiting the distribution of Implanon and Implanon NXT and restraining the Food and Drug Administration from granting pending applications for registration and or recertification of reproductive contraceptive drugs and products.

On April 26, 2017, the SC broke its silence on the TRO with the announcement that it had promulgated the 2nd Division’s decision which was attested by its chair, Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and certified by Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno. The ponente was Associate Justice Jose Mendoza. Other members of the division are Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Mariano del Castillo and Marvic Leonen. Leonen made a separate and concurring decision.

The decision does not yet lift the TRO.

It gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 60 days to explain whether contraceptive drugs Implanon and Implanon NXT are abortifacients or not.

The TRO had been issued in response to pro-life advocates’ charge that the FDA had failed to consider their opposition to the contraceptive products.

The SC denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Health (DOH) asking for the lifting of the TRO on subdermal implants.

The decision said, “WHEREFORE, the August 24, 2016 Decision is MODIFIED. Accordingly, the Food and Drug Administration is ordered to consider the oppositions filed by the petitioners with respect to the listed drugs, including Implanon and Implanon NXT, based on the standards of the Reproductive Health Law, as construed in Imbong v. Ochon, and to decide the case within sixty (60) days from the date it will be deemed submitted for resolution.”

“After compliance with due process and upon promulgation of the decision of the Food and Drug Administration, the Temporary Restraining Order would be deemed lifted if the questioned drugs and devices are found not abortifacients.”

The Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act was passed in 2012 – after 14 years of deliberation and heated discussions in the two houses of Congress. But opponents of the bill asked the Supreme Court to stop the implementation of the law, claiming that contraceptives are abortifacients. Hence the SC issued the TRO.

Hopes rose with President Duterte’s issuance of Executive Order on Jan. 9, 2017, ordering the full implementation of the RPRH law. The EO provides funds and support for modern family planning, in a bid to make modern family planning available to the poor by 2018.

“This Order aims to intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions necessary to attain and sustain ‘zero unmet need for modern family planning’ for all poor households by 2018,” reads Executive Order No. 12.

Among the strategies outlined in the four-page document is to do a comprehensive review of couples and individuals in need of family planning services. The government hopes to reduce poverty to 13 percent by the end of Duterte’s six-year term in 2022, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

The Philippines has six million women, of which two million are poor, that “have unmet need for any modern method of contraception, and remain unable to fully exercise their reproductive rights,” the Executive Order said, citing Philippine Statistics Authority findings from 2013.

“The procurement of contraceptives is critically important in order to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. If a woman is sexually active, effective family planning methods help her correctly and consistently plans birthing. Among reversible methods of birth control, intrauterine contraception and the contraceptive implant remain highly effective for years,” POPCOM Executive Director Dr. Juan Antonio Perez III said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health and Research, contraceptives such as the pill and patch yields 6-12 pregnancies per 100 women in a year while implant and intrauterine device (IUD) produces less than one pregnancy per 100 women in a year. Meanwhile, condom is comparable to the least effectiveness of calendar method with 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women in a year.

“Aside from delaying birth, contraception reduces the need for abortion, especially unsafe abortion, as well as teenage pregnancy,” Dr. Perez said. Based from the WHO data, an estimated 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception because of limited choice of methods, limited access to contraception, cultural or religious opposition, and poor quality of available services.

Ben de Leon, president of The FORUM for Family Planning and Development says, “The onus is on the FDA to do its primary responsibility as defined in its charter R.A. No. 3720, as amended by R.A. No. 9711 to observe due process. The FDA then should immediately decide and issue certification/recertification of contraceptives and implants.”

There is good reason to hope that the FDA will show that the questioned contraceptives are not abortifacients. As the SC decision goes, once the FDA has complied with the order, the SC will submit the case for resolution.

Says De Leon: “If the petitioners fail to prove their claim that their questioned FP products are not abortifacients, the High Court also decided that FDA decisions are only appealable to the Office of the President, not in the Court of Appeals as earlier promulgated.” This, adds De Leon, “is advantageous to the RH community.”

Now, a few words about Implanon and Implanon NXT. These are similar contraceptive polymer rods about the size of a match stick that is implanted just below the skin of the inner, upper arm, and it slowly releases a contraceptive hormone, etonogesterel, preventing pregnancy of a woman for three years. It is not an abortifacient, as it only prevents pregnancy.

This system has a failure rate of about 0.05% each year. And the fact that it prevents conception for three years makes it a popular choice for planning the number of children women desire.

Let’s give our all-out support to the FDA, whose decision will be scrutinized as though through a prism by the High Tribunal.

Source: Philippine Star

SC affirms TRO on contraceptives

By ABS-CBN

MANILA- The Supreme Court has affirmed the temporary restraining order (TRO) it had issued on the registration, procurement and distribution of contraceptive implants considered to be abortifacients but clarified that only two products were covered by the order.

The ruling, released to the media on Friday, said that the high court cannot lift the TRO prior to the summary hearing to be conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety, efficacy, purity, quality, and non-abortiveness of the contraceptives.

“To grant its prayer to lift the TRO would be premature and presumptuous. Any declaration by the Court at this time would have no basis because the FDA, which has the mandate and expertise on the matter, has to first resolve the controversy pending before its Office,” the ruling said.

In June 2015, the high tribunal ordered the Department of Health and its agents to temporarily stop ” procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, advertising and promoting the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT.”

Two months later, the Department and the FDA were also prohibited from registering and recertifying contraceptives.

The court also clarified that the TRO only prevented the DOH from registering, recertifying, procuring, and administering Implanon and Implanon NXT— contraceptives being contested by the Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc.

“It never meant to enjoin the processing of the entire gamut of family planning supplies that have been declared as unquestionably non-abortifacient. Moreover, the injunction issued by the Court was only subject to the condition that the respondents afford the petitioners a genuine opportunity to their right to due process,” it said.

Also on Friday, a petition signed by some 300,000 people was submitted to the SC urging the high tribunal to lift its temporary restraining order on contraceptives, the Commission on Population (PopCom) said.

The government agency, tasked to manage population-related development programs, expressed support for petitioners, cited that petitioners include urban poor women and men who are more likely to be affected by the order.

Because of the court order, PopCom said, 15 certificates of product registration expired in 2016, and 10 others expired this month, leaving only 23 contraceptive brands available to the public.

The agency also lifting the TRO would pave the way for the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act, passed in 2012.

The controversial law guarantees universal access to all methods of modern contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, and maternal and child care.

Source:ABS-CBN

300,000 sign petition to lift contraceptive TRO

By Evelyn Macairan

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Population has submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) 300,000 signatures of women calling for the lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the distribution and sale of contraceptive implants.

But there will be no immediate lifting of the TRO.

In a ruling promulgated during their summer session in Baguio City in April and released to media yesterday, magistrates of the high court’s Second Division gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 60 days to find out whether contraceptive drugs Implanon and Implanon NXT are abortifacient or not.

The SC also denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the Department of Health (DOH) seeking to lift its TRO on subdermal implants.

“The FDA is ordered to consider the opposition filed by the petitioner with respect to the listed drugs, including Implanon and Implanon NXT, based on the standards of the Reproductive Health Law,” the SC ruling read.

Once the FDA has complied with the order, the SC will submit the case for resolution.

The high court said it would lift the TRO if it is proven that the contraceptive implants are not abortifacient.

The FDA was also instructed to amend the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10354, the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

“In denying the motion for reconsideration filed by the DOH, the court upheld its power to review the findings of the FDA and affirmed its finding that petitioners were denied due process because the FDA failed to consider their oppositions to the products and devices under consideration,” the SC said.

The TRO has been in place since June 2015.

The petitioner, Alliance for the Family Foundation Philippines Inc., alleged in its complaint that the FDA had certified the two types of implants.

The DOH had stressed that these contraceptives are safe and not abortifacient.

Unsafe contraceptives

Filipino women may end up buying and using unsafe and ineffective contraceptives if the SC will not lift the TRO on contraceptives, according to a women’s rights advocacy group.

Elizabeth Angsioco, chair of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, said the registration date of contraceptives would expire because of the TRO and this would lead to smuggling of the products.

“It is possible because there will be a huge demand and no supply,” Angsioco said.

In June 2015, the high tribunal stopped the DOH from distributing subdermal implants.

The TRO also prohibited the FDA from renewing the certificates of product registration of these contraceptives.

As a result, 15 certificates of product registration for contraceptives expired last year while 10 expired this month, leaving only 23 contraceptives available to the public.

If this continues, there will be no more contraceptives available in the market by 2020, health officials said.

Angsioco said the TRO should be lifted as contraceptives are fast disappearing from the market.

“If contraceptives are not registered, these are considered contraband. There is no assurance on quality and safety since these were not subjected to FDA regulations,” she said.

Source:Philippine Star

High court TRO on contraceptives slowly killing women, says DOH exec

By DJ Yap

A Supreme Court order effectively blocking the entry of most birth control products in the market is “slowly killing” Filipino women, as the Philippines stands to run out of contraceptives by 2020, reproductive health (RH) advocates warned recently.

Speaking at a forum organized by House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, a Taguig representative, Junice Melgar of the Department of Health’s (DOH) national implementing committee on the RH Law said the high court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on the certification of contraceptive products had far-reaching health implications for women.

“Slowly, I think they are killing women,” the director of the DOH’s Family Health Office told the forum on Friday.

“Last year, the registration of several products expired already. This year, we expect 62 percent to expire. Next year, a full 90 percent will be expiring. And by 2020, there will be no contraceptives, nothing,” she said.

The RH Law was passed in 2012 guaranteeing universal access to sexual education and maternal care, as well as methods on contraception and fertility control.

But in 2015, the Supreme Court stopped the DOH’s program for the distribution and sale of contraceptive implants and barred the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from “granting any and all pending application for reproductive products and supplies, including contraceptive drugs and devices.”

In an August 2016 ruling, the high tribunal denied the motion of the DOH to lift the TRO and instead remanded the case to the FDA to check if the products had abortifacient side effects.

Cayetano warned that the scarcity of contraceptive supplies would endanger the health and lives of millions of Filipino women.

“The Supreme Court wants each contraceptive brand to undergo public hearing. But there is nothing in the law that says that,” she said.

Source:Philippine Daily Inquirer

SC pressed anew to lift TRO on contraceptives

By Julie M. Aurelio

Women may find themselves with no access to contraceptive methods in the future—but not only that.

Contraceptives may become illegal in the future if the Supreme Court does not lift its rulings which impede the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law.

This developed as the Commission on Population (PopCom) and other reproductive health advocates submitted its petition seeking to reverse the temporary restraining orders (TROs) on contraceptives in the country.

Elizabeth Angsioco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) pointed out that the situation might lead to contraceptives becoming contraband.

“You may have the money but you can’t buy any contraceptives because these will become contraband or illegal. Zero contraceptive access is a slap and kick to women,” she said on Friday.

The DSWP, along with the PopCom and other groups, submitted a total of 283,481 signatures appealing to the Supreme Court to lift the twin TROs issued in 2015 which affect contraceptives.M

“Millions of women’s health and lives are on the line. We trust that the Supreme Court remains the bastion of justice, and will correct this injustice done to our women,” they told the high court.

One of the TROs in question is against the procuring, selling, distributing, dispensing or administering, of the hormonal contraceptive Implanon and Implanon NXT.

The other TRO bans the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from renewing the certificates of product registration (CPRs) of 48 contraceptive products, which include pills, injections and implants.

PopCom executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said 15 CPRs of contraceptives expired in 2016 and 10 in May 2017, leaving only 23 contraceptives available.

He said that by 2020, there would be no contraceptives available in the market if the CPRs would continue to expire and remain unrenewed.

“These signatories all over the country signed this multisectoral petition to urge the high court to lift the TROs that are almost 2 years old,” Perez said.

The PopCom has previously warned that with the TROs in place, unintended pregnancies may rise, as well as cases of abortion, maternal death and a spike in the population.

Angsioco pointed out that should contraceptives eventually become unregistered and illegal, whoever buys or sells them would be violating the law and may be apprehended.

The situation may also lead to smuggling of contraceptives “because there will be a huge demand, and the supply will be problematic.”

“There is no assurance on quality and safety since these are not subjected to FDA processes. There might even be fake ones sold in the black market. Those from legitimate sources abroad may be safe and effective but still illegal here,” she said.

Source:Philippine Daily Inquirer

3 Things You MUST Know About Birth Control Pills If You Don’t Want to Get Pregnant — or Do!

By DENISE MANN

How does birth control work?

There are basically two types of birth control pills, synthetic forms of the hormones progesterone and estrogen, which can be close to 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly. One type contains the female sex hormone progesterone and the other type contain a combination of estrogen and progesterone, explains Jill Rabin, MD, co-chief of the division of ambulatory care and Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY. The hormones work in different ways to prevent pregnancy. “Progesterone thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to penetrate, and it also makes the Fallopian tubes move slower so the egg and sperm don’t get together quite as efficiently,” she says. “It also makes the uterine lining hostile to implantation.” A fertilized egg can’t implant in a thin lining—it needs a soft cushy place to implant. Estrogen inhibits ovulation by suppressing the hormones responsible for ovulation. ” If you interrupt this cycle, an egg won’t come out and a steady state of estrogen interrupts it, ” Dr. Rabin says. Neither type of birth control pills protect against sexually transmitted diseases, which are on the rise (are you at risk for STDs?).

Are there any women who can’t take combined birth control pills?

” A lot of people can’t take estrogen,” says Dr. Rabin, who is based in New Hyde Park, NY. The list includes women with a personal history of a blood clots, breast cancer, or heart disease, and smokers. Progesterone alone is safer in some women. These are the silent signs you’re on the wrong birth control.

How long does it take for birth control to work?

“Some pills begin working within 72 hours and others may take three to five days to become effective,” says Dr. Rabin. “I tell my patients to use condoms for the first week just to be safe.” These are the secrets your vagina wishes you knew.

When should I take birth control pills?

This varies by type, Dr. Rabin says. “Progestin-only pills must be taken at the same time every day or your cervical mucus will start to thin and you could become pregnant,” she warns. “You don’t have to take combination contraceptives at the exact time every day, but doing so will make it become a habit.” Many women find it helpful to keep their pill pack next to their toothbrush, so the two daily habits naturally happen at the same time. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on when and how you should take your pill. (Here’s how to save money on commonly used meds.)

What happens if I forget to take a pill?

“Take it as soon as you remember or take two the following day, and if you forget for two days in a row, it may be time to consider a long-acting form of contraception such as an IUD that doesn’t rely on memory,” says Dr. Rabin. And in the meantime, use condoms until you have another form of birth control in place. These are the clear signs you should switch to an IUD.

How effective is the birth control pill?

“When we talk about the effectiveness of the pill, there are two different answers,” says Donnica Moore, MD, president of Sapphire Women’s Health in Chester, NJ. “In a clinical trial or when women use it 100 percent correctly as directed, the pill is more than 99.9 effective. However when it comes to real-life effectiveness, the pill is about 91 percent effective,” she says. “This means that 9 out of 100 pill users will get pregnant each year largely because it’s tricky to remember to take a pill every single day.”

Can anything interfere with the pill’s effectiveness?

Certain antibiotics, anti-fungal drugs, and other medications including some so-called natural supplements such as St. John’s Wort can affect how well the pill works, Dr. Moore says. “Any time you get put on medication or start taking a new supplement and are also on birth control, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any interactions with the new medication and birth control pill and if so, what they are,” she says. If you have a stomach bug and have been vomiting or have diarrhea, birth control absorption can be affected. Back-up contraception may be required in these cases, according to Dr. Moore. (Here’s why you might be getting chronic diarrhea.)

Does the pill have any side effects?

“The major side effects from too much estrogen are bloating and sore breasts, so if you notice that, talk to your gynecologist about a lower-dose estrogen pill,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale University. “The major side effects from progestins (and there are a lot of different types out there) would be moodiness and irritability,” she says. “If that happens, do talk to your gynecologist about switching to a different pill that would make you a bit less moody.” These are the foods that boost your mood.

What should I do if I am on the pill and want to become pregnant?

Although you could just go off the pill, there are other considerations you’ll want to discuss with your doctor. For example, you might not know your blood sugar runs high, and according to Dr. Rabin, the time to fix this is before you become pregnant. “You should also be taking prenatal vitamins even when still on the pill to maximize your health,” she says. “Start prenatal vitamins, come off of the pill, see your doctor, and then get pregnant.” Here’s how to get pregnant, according to OB-GYNs.

How soon after stopping the pill can I try to conceive?

“Right away,” says Michael Cackovic, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “As a matter of fact, we sometimes put women who are irregular and want to conceive on the pill to regulate their menses.” The only way to know when you are ovulating is to get on a regular cycle, he adds. “Your fertility comes out kicking and screaming.” Don’t fall for these infertility myths.

Can I breastfeed while on the pill?

“There is a risk that women who go on the pill right after they deliver and want to breastfeed will have a diminished milk supply, but if you breastfeed for six weeks, your breast milk will be firmly established, so starting the pill should not affect your supply, ” says Dr. Cackovic.

What happens if I get pregnant while taking the pill?

This can and does happen, says Dr. Cackovic. “If you become pregnant while on the pill, stop taking it and have your obstetrician take a look at the baby at 18 weeks to make sure it’s fine,” he says. “If you continue taking the pill through your pregnancy, you will experience withdrawal bleeding each month.” If you suspect you are pregnant while on the pill, take a pregnancy test and make an appointment with your doctor.

With so many pills to choose from, how do I decide which one is right?

“I ask patients what they have been on before, and if it worked, we will go back on that one,” Dr. Cackovic says. Your doctor should also take a medical history to see if there are any contraindications to combination birth control pills. There are other considerations too, Dr. Rabin adds. Some birth control pills treat acne too. And there’s a three-month pill where you take hormone pills every day for three months, followed by a week of placebo. Some women take active pills continuously for one year and never experience any menstrual bleeding. “There really is no medical reason that most women have to get their period every month.”

Source:RD.com