Not hiding behind my Pill

There’s this whole big debate on birth control and sometimes, I can’t help but think two things: one, is what is the big effin’ deal? and two, a woman’s decision to go on the Pill is not anyone’s business but her own.

According to a survey done by the Social Weather Station, a little over half of Filipino adults disagree that the use of pills (52%), condoms (51%), and intra-uterine device (IUD) (51%) can be considered as abortion.

When you read the results of a survey like this, do you every wonder who those 52% are?

Maybe now would be an appropriate time to say I’m among that number. I might also add a couple of details about myself. I’m not married. I’m on the Pill.
I don’t believe that modern forms of birth control are abortion and I think that personal matters, mostly anything that has to do with my sexual reproductive health is this exactly that—personal.

My own liberation

Photo from

I also know that since I’ve been on the Pill (close to 10 years now), my only regret is not going on the Pill sooner. I was over 30 when I first went on the Pill and so to say that I was a late bloomer is putting it lightly.

I wished I had not waited so long to experience the same liberation that women felt when the Pill was first introduced in the 1960s.

In my early twentys, naivete, embarassment and a misplaced sense of ignorance (and invincibility) were the marks of my indecision about the Pill. I didn’t know which OB – GYN I could go to and ask for advice (would she tell admonish me for asking about the Pill knowing that I’m single) and in truth, I couldn’t really afford it.

Back then, the average cost of the “preferred brand of birth control” was P600++ per pack and it would make a considerable dent on my monthly paycheck.

It was another kind of embarrassment that finally had me go to the doctor–a dermatologist to be exact. At the ripe old age of 30something, I was besieged by the onset of adult acne. Much worse than the red dots that were present during my teen years, these were cystic bumps that actually hurt when they were touched like when I had to wash my face. Weekly visits, experimentation with every possible treatment and a small fortune were spent on weekly visits to the derma. The bigger cost was what it did to my self-confidence.

Photo from

My doctor finally suggested the only other option left: hormonal treatment. Meaning, since she had tried everything on the surface to help me with my problem (diamond peels, injections, you name it), we had to go beneath the surface and address what really causes pimples, which are hormones.

My only concern then was the Pill might make me fat. I remember wailing to my doctor, “I can’t be pimply AND fat!”

After reassuring me that it was my eating habits that would make me fat and not the Pill, I took a prescription and bought my very first pack of pills.

I patiently waited for the three months that my doctor said would take for me to see any results.

I’m still on the Pill now and my weekends have been freed up from derma appointments so go figure.

Other benefits of the Pill

While I used it primarily to regulate my skin, this incident began my discovery on the Pill and enjoying its many benefits. I began to understand why the Pill was heralded as the best thing ever known and invented for womankind.

Over the years, as a Pill user, I have found other benefits like controlling and regulating my period. Before the Pill, apart from knowing that I would get my period every month, I never knew exactly when I would get it. With the Pill, like clockwork, I could expect my period within two – three days after finishing my 21-day pack.

Photo from

And the best part of it all was also being able to change the date of my cycle if I wanted or needed to. I could actually choose not to have my period if I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to deal with the hassle of having my period on a beach trip or when I’m off in some rural area covering a story. (You can imagine that bathroom conditions are not always ideal in such a scenario. On another note, I imagine that couples in long-distance relationships would appreciate this particular benefit.)

The Pill gave me so much control over my life—and not just for the birth part. (though it did also offer much more security when it came to intimate choices and I truly enjoyed the feeling of sex without fear of mistimed pregnancy.)

It gave me so much control over the big and little things that used to get in the way of life and which I thought I just had to deal and accept as part of being a girl.

Maybe that’s why, as this article says, 98% of Catholic women use the Pill.

But like I said, it’s a personal choice between a woman and her god, a woman and her partner, but mostly between a woman and herself. (Oh, and maybe the doctor she needs to consult before going on the Pill.)

[NOTE: This is a personal account of my own experience with the Pill and is not to be taken as a general endorsement. Please consult your doctor about the different birth control options before deciding on which one is right for you.]


The Top Five Common Side Effects of the Pill— What they are, why they happen, and what you should do about them

by Elizabeth Fox, Sex and summer intern

So you’ve started the pill and, despite all its benefits, you’re feeling a little nauseous. Or your breasts are sore. Or—you missed a period. Any warning bells going off? Before you panic, read on. We recently had a chat with Dr. Sharon Mendoza, OB-GYN and Birthplace Clinic and Diagnostic Center Medical Director who cleared up all our questions about the most common side effects of the pill and gave us some important information any girl worth her SaSs should know.

1. Breast tenderness

This side effect is especially common in the first month of pill use and is due to the increased amount of estrogen present in the bloodstream. Since estrogen is the hormone most responsible for a female’s physical development and breast growth, any extra estrogen can cause breast tenderness. This should wear off once the body is accustomed to the pill—usually after three months.

Photo taken from

2. Bloating

In the initial months of pill use, again, due to the increased amount of estrogen present in the bloodstream, some women may experience fluid retention—bloating, or a feeling of weight gain. This, too, should pass after a few months on the pill, but those who take the pill irregularly are more prone to it. Staying on schedule with the pill should make you feel a little lighter.

Photo taken from Top News

3. Nausea

Similar to when a pregnant woman has morning sickness, the body is still trying to familiarize itself with the new substance in its bloodstream. As in pregnancy, this should wear off once the body has adjusted to the new hormone levels.

Photo taken from The Med Guru

4. Mood changes
When there is too much estrogen in the system, women are more prone to weepiness, fits of rage, or feelings of depression. This is a reason why some women choose forms of contraception other than the pill. If you would like to be on the pill and limit the mood changes, however, try a pill that is made of progesterone. Luckily enough, progesterone-only pills can also prevent weight gain.

Photo taken from Softpedia

5. Lighter periods

Though this is usually considered a benefit of the pill—and the reason some women take it—it’s good to know why it happens. When a woman is on the pill, the amount of hormones in the body every month is controlled in ways it is not while a woman is experiencing her natural cycle. A lack of blood does not mean that you have less blood; rather, it means that the lining of the uterus is not thickening as much anymore. Thus, when it is released each month in the form of your period, there is less blood.

Photo taken from Suite101

While we had Dr. Sharon with us, we got the chance to ask some other questions we  had on our minds.

SAS: Why do some women on the pill miss periods? Are they pregnant?

Dr. S: This usually happens when the pill is not started on time. There are pills that need to be started on the first day of menses; there are pills that need to be started on the fifth day. It is important to follow the guidelines for your specific birth control. The progesterone-only pill can also cause absence of periods. If you start the pill on time and use it regularly, there is no need to worry about pregnancy.
Also, when starting the pill, always make sure to use protection—or condoms as back up–for the first two weeks to give the pill time to take effect.

SAS: When on the pill, your period is usually regulated, but sometimes it becomes delayed. What causes this?

Dr. S: Delays may be due to a missed tablet or low estrogen content of the particular type of pill. As long as you have started the pill on time and are taking it regularly, your cycle should go back to normal. If the problem persists, however, have your doctor check you for other medical problems, such as thyroid issues, that could affect your menstrual cycle.

Overall, Dr. Sharon says, the best thing you can do to prevent side effects is take the pill regularly. If you have experienced the problem for more than three months, however, see your physician for a possible change in the brand of birth control pill you take or the type of contraceptive method you use. If taken regularly and consistently, the pill is 99% effective in letting women control and plan their pregnancies.

To find out more about what birth control pill is best for you, call the Filipinay Hotline and speak to a professional health care provider:

Hotline: (02) 477-5555 or call or
Text: (0917) 823-1111
Operating hours :  Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM

10 things every woman needs to know about birth control pills

This article was written by Ana Santos and originally posted on

Oral contraceptives are just one of the ways women can take control of and responsibility for their bodies. Read this article to learn the basics about the Pill.


“The pill contains synthetic hormones that are made to ones that are already found in our bodies,” says Dizon. “Generally, there are two kinds of pills, the ones that contain only progestogen,* and the ones that contain a combination of oestrogen and progestogen.”

Pills work by altering the mucous lining of the vagina to make it thicker—so thick that the sperm cannot then get through and meet your egg. Essentially, that’s how the pill prevents you from getting pregnant.

*Note: Progestogen-only pills are also frequently known as progestin-only pills, progestins being a synthetic type of progestogen that mimics many of the qualities of the naturally occurring progesterone, which is not a component of the Pill.

(Photo source:


Fight the urge to buy a brand of pills just because your friend buys it.

“Remember, pills are made of hormones. Every woman has a different body type and hormonal make-up and will thus respond differently to pills,” explains Dizon, who gets calls from women who ask why certain pills have an adverse effect on them, but none on their friends.

“You should also consult your health care provider about what pill to take, especially if you are on other medication which may be counter to the pill,” Dizon stresses.

(Photo source:


“It is normal to experience early signs of pregnancy like nausea and breast tenderness—especially for those who are taking the pill for the first time,” says Dizon.

Usually, these effects go away after three to six months—the usual amount of time your body needs to adjust to the intake of pills. If you continue to experience side effects after this period, consult a health care provider and switch to another brand.

(Photo source:


Many new pill-takers ask how important it is to take the pill at the same time every day. Dizon’s answer? “Very. This is to make sure a steady and measured dose of hormones is supplied to your body.  Taking the pill at the same time every day ensures its efficacy and also helps to minimize any side effects such as spotting.”

To help you remember to take your pill, schedule taking your pill around an activity you do every day like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. If your schedule is really erratic, consider a back up birth control option.

(Photo source:


“[The Pill is] very effective–if it is taken correctly,” says Dizon. “Almost all forms of birth control and contraception are 99 percent effective. That’s why it is very important to take the pill according to instructions.” According, less than 1 out of 100 women will fall pregnant while taking the Pill according to instructions, but 8 out of 100 will fall pregnant with faulty use.

(Photo source:


They are many other benefits associated with taking the pill, like:

• Regular menstruation: Certain pills can help regulate your monthly cycle, so you’re never caught off guard waiting for your period to come.

• Lessened dysmenorrhea:Some pills also help decrease or even do away with the painful cramps many women experience during their monthlies.

• Better skin: the hormones in some pills also help control those nasty pimple-causing hormones, giving you clearer, glowing skin. Ask your doctor about pills that help regulate androgen hormones (male hormones) that causes problems like oily skin, acne, and unwanted facial hair.

• Reduced cancer risk:Contrary to many women’s beliefs, the Pill does not cause cancer;; in fact, it can reduce a woman’s chances of getting cancer of the endometrium and ovaries. The reported slight increase in the risk for breast cancer is obviated by taking pills based on the national clinical guidelines.

(Photo by pedrosimoes7 via Flickr Creative Commons)


Some women have reported gaining weight since they started going on the pill. But the good news is that this weight gain is mostly due to water retention—and not due to actual additional pounds—so it’s easily lost as well. Still, remember that what’s true for some women taking a certain pill may not necessarily be true for you too. There are other women who’ve reported losing weight after going on oral contraceptives.

Remember to eat right and exercise regularly. That still remains be the best way to keep the pounds at bay.

(Photo source:


According to a statement released by the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of the Philippines (POGS) on their website, pills “do not cause abortion; in fact they prevent unwanted pregnancies hence nothing to abort.”

Dizon adds to this by saying that, “the content of the pills are estrogen and progesterone, which is already in the woman’s body. If these hormones [were] abortifacient, even without taking the pill, you [would] already have an abortifacient in your body.”

(Photo source:


“Pills may not recommended if you have diabetes, heart problems, asthma, epilepsy, or varicose veins,” says Dizon. “The same goes for other hormone-related illnesses like goiter and thyroid.”

“You should also not take the pill if you have cancer. While the pill will not cause cancer, it can exacerbate a pre-existing case of cancer. You really need to consult a health care professional if you have a pre-existing condition or [are] on medication,” she concludes.

(Photo source:


There are many reasons why women forget to take pills—sometimes it’s because we’re so busy juggling our many roles or we’re caught up in too many things–but don’t panic. For the most part, you can do something about it. To the right is a quick guide on what to do in case you miss taking a pill.

If you’ve missed a pill or gone off-schedule, remember to use a backup. It’s important to note that if you miss two or more “active” pills in a row, you could become pregnant if you have sex in the next seven days. So you need to use a backup method of birth control, such as condoms or spermicide.

Even if you’re still not sure what to do about pills you missed, use a backup birth control method (such as condoms or spermicide) and keep taking one “active” pill each day until you can speak with your healthcare professional.

Below are some useful practical tips to remember when taking the Pill:

a. Time taking your pill to a basic morning routine that you would never forget to do like brushing your teeth or washing your face.

b. Remember to keep a spare pack of contraceptive pills on hand so you won’t be late starting your next pack.

c. Use your mobile phone, PC, or a calendar to set an alarm warning you one week in advance of your start date for a new pack. You can also use this to remind you to take your pill every day.

If you have additional questions about oral contraceptive pills or to find out which brand is the best for you, call the FILIPINAY hotline at (02) 477-5555 or call or text (0917) 823-1111 to speak to a health care professional. Hotline operating hours run from Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.