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Are COCs the right method for me?

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Are COCs the right method for me?

There are a number of factors you should consider to determine whether COCs are the right contraceptive method for you. As with any contraception, you should first talk to your doctor or a counselor at your local clinic or hospital before using COCs as a contraceptive method.

COCs may be an effective method for you

If any of the following is true:
  • You prefer a very effective method and can use COCs correctly
  • You prefer a method that is not linked to sexual intercourse
  • You prefer a method you can discontinue yourself
  • You can tolerate minor menstrual changes, such as spotting between periods and other possible side effects, such as nausea, when first starting pill use.
  • You have menstrual problems that may be decreased by using COCs (such as heavy bleeding or cramping)
  • You have a history of ectopic pregnancy
  • You have a family history of ovarian cancer
  • You've just delivered a baby and are not breastfeeding. (You may begin taking the pill after the third postpartum week, or at any time you and your health care provider believe you are not pregnant.)


COCs may not be an effective method for you

If any of the following is true:
  • You are at risk of exposure to or transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection. COCs do not provide protection against these infections (see condoms).
  • You are HIV positive or suspect that you may be.
  • You are breastfeeding. (Estrogen, a hormone in COCs, can decrease the amount and nutritional content of breast milk.)
  • You are unable to obtain regular supplies of pills.
  • You have two or more of the following risk factors for heart disease:
    • You are over age 35
    • You smoke
    • You have diabetes mellitus
    • You have high blood pressure
    • You have unexplained, abnormal vaginal bleeding
    • You are taking medication for seizures or convulsions or you are taking rifampin (rifampicin), an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis.

COCs are not an effective method for you

If any of the following is true:
  • You are pregnant or strongly suspect that you may be pregnant.
  • You have active thromboembolic or cardiovascular disease, or a past history of either condition
  • You are over 40 years old, and you smoke
  • You have known or suspected breast cancer
  • You have active liver disease
  • You have benign or malignant liver tumors
  • You have a history of jaundice caused by gall bladder disease during pregnancy
For more information about this method, see Combined Oral Contraceptives (COCs): Answers to Your Questions.


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