How Birth Control Pills Prevent Pregnancy



Follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone are produced by the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain. These two hormones coordinate the development and release of an egg from the ovary. A surge in both of these hormones ordinarily occurs in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Follicle stimulating hormone stimulates ovarian egg production. Luteinizing hormone triggers egg released from the ovary: ovulation. Oral contraceptive pills inhibit the production of both follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone; as such oral contraceptive pills prevent ovulation.

Another contraceptive mechanism of (combined) birth control pills is to prevent fertilization. Combined oral contraceptives effect cervical secretions. The progestin contained in the birth control pill causes the cervical secretion to thicken which impedes sperm, little or no sperm enter the uterine cavity; as such fertilization cannot occur.

Oral contraceptives do not terminate a pregnancy, they prevent the ability to become pregnant.

Oral contraceptives cause suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, however after seven days without oral contraceptive use, pituitary function and basal estrogen (estradiol) secretion often returns to normal.

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