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Birth Control

Here, Ask EROS has anonymously published questions and answers from or "Ask EROS Program" and "Ask EROS-online." Asked by your fellow students, these questions were answered by our very own counselor(s).

» I heard it takes a while to get pregnant after being off the Pill?
» Condom or not?
» What is the problem with BC pills and smoking?
» Can BC pills be used to regulate monthly cycles?
» I am on the birth control pill, Ortho Tri Cyclen...
» ...the distribution of birth control in schools...


Dear EROS, I am 21 years old and happily married. I have been on the Pill for 4 months now, but I heard it takes a while to get pregnant after being off the Pill for a while. I was wondering if it’s true. How does that work? Signed, Confused

Dear Confused, The Pill is on its 3rd generation now, the amount of hormone in each pill has gone down appreciably over the years. We are not as concerned about delayed return to fertility as we used to be. The Pill is actually approved for use through menopause now, and has many non-contraceptive benefits. If you are thinking about achieving a pregnancy in the near future, we would recommend stopping the Pill a month or so before you are ready to begin trying and to use something more temporary like condoms. Please be aware though that the average length of time it takes for a couple to conceive is about 12 months, so don’t panic if it doesn’t happen the first time you try. Best of luck.

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Dear EROS, My girlfriend and I have been dating for two years now. She has been on the Pill for 6 months and we have been having sex for over year. When we have sexual intercourse, we use a male condom. Recently we have been debating on whether or not to use a condom during sex. Since she is on the Pill and we are very close and marriage is a possibility, is it a wise decision to leave the condom off? (She is very consistent with taking the Pill every day). My plan is instead of the condom, using a spermicide along with the Pill. Signed, Debating

Dear Debating, Our first question is were either of you tested before you began this monogamous relationship? There are STDS that can linger for months or years waiting to cause damage. We would hate to see either of you passing something on. If you have both been tested and aren't harboring any stray bugs, adding a spermicide into the mix would certainly increase the Pills effectiveness and give you a small measure of protection against STDS too.

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Dear EROS, Why is there a problem with BC pills and smoking? I don't smoke more than 1 pack a day, but I really like the convenience of BC pills. A worried contraceptor

Dear Worried Contraceptor, We checked this one out with Agnes Kratzer, RNP at the Student Health Center, and have included her comments as well. All women should be discouraged from smoking, especially women who use oral contraceptives (BC pills). The Pill is extremely safe for healthy, nonsmoking women under age 45. However, women who smoke are at a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clotting injuries, because smoking enhances or promotes the Pill to increase those health risks. For women 45 and up, these risks become greater. About 200-500 Pill users die each year from Pill complications. Deaths related to Pill use are almost all from blood clots, heart attacks and strokes among older Pill users who smoke. Ah, but you are probably saying.....I'm not 45 years old. Doesn't that count for something? Yes, but not much. The problem with smoking and the Pill is that it's a cumulative effect. It builds up over time. So we look at things like how much you smoke, and for how long, how many years you've been on BC Pills, if you have a family history of anyone who had a heart attack or stroke. Those are all factors, and will all count against you in the long run. We'd rather see you contact someone here in the Health Center who can help you quit smoking. After all, as you yourself said, "I don't smoke more than 1 pack a day..." From our book Understanding Your Body, we also got this: "Your age, smoking status and medical history determine how safe or unsafe Pills are likely to be for you. The medical community does everything in its power to get smoking Pill users to give up smoking. She who has ears, let her hear." Please listen. We care about your health.

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Dear EROS, I was wondering if the dosage given for the birth control pill is the same level of estrogen and progesterone given for those that need it to regulate their monthly flow. If so, then that means that you can kill two birds with one stone! Curious

Dear Curious, Thank you for your question. The birth control pill prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation and making the cervical mucus thick and sticky, which inhibits sperm travel. Although different pills have different quantities of estrogen and progesterone they all prevent pregnancy in the same way. Women not on the Pill can ovulate at different times, due to stress, diet or a number of other factors. The bottom line is you're right. The birth control pill will most likely regulate your cycles and make them very regular 28 day cycles in addition to preventing pregnancy rather effectively. Please remember that the Pill only prevents pregnancy, but will not protect you against any sexually transmitted diseases.

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Dear EROS, I am on the birth control pill, Ortho Tri Cyclen. I have been on the Pill for about 8 months. My parents do not know I'm on the Pill, so I went to Planned Parenthood for an exam and the Pill. I didn't go to my family doctor because my mother is the nurse at the office. For the past year I've also been taking Minocycline (an antibiotic) which is medication to clear up acne. My family doctor prescribed it. I recently heard that antibiotics can sometimes reverse birth control. Is this true? Can you tell me more information about antibiotics and birth control? Thank you very much for your time. Signed, A Little Nervous

Dear Little Nervous, You are to be commended for following up on this instead of just blindly taking medication. Good for you! Some antibiotics do interact with oral contraceptives, but in different ways. Some antibiotics make the pill less effective. Others become less effective themselves, due to Pill interaction. With regard to the specific medication you are on , we checked with the Pharmacist at the Student Health Center and Minocycline is one of the tetracycline's, which do lower the effectiveness of the Pill. If you wish to avoid the slight increased risk of pregnancy, it is recommended you use an additional form of contraception while you are taking this course of antibiotics.

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Dear EROS, I need some information on the distribution of birth control in schools. I am having a hard time finding information on this topic. I need it for a report for school. The report is supposed to be on the pros and cons of this. Sincerely, Stephanie

Dear Stephanie, Different school districts have very different perspectives on this. Here in Los Angeles, there are several school that have clinics on-site. These clinics offer a variety of health care, not just birth control, and parents need to sign a release at the start of the school year to allow their child to receive services at the school-based clinic. In the Los Angeles area, I believe that San Fernando High School and Jordan High School both have them. Jan Marquard is the director of the Teen Clinic at San Fernando. If you would like to contact her for information about the pros and cons, her number is (818) 365-7517. Good luck with your report.

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