So you’re on birth control pills, right? If not, you might be interested in starting. If you’re ready to take a pill each day for four weeks, this is the method for you! While we say four weeks, could it really be three? Millions of women are probably wondering if it’s really necessary to take that last week of birth control pills. If you’re one of those women, then you’re in luck!
Before we explain to you whether or not you need that last week of pills, let’s first go over the menstrual system, how it works, and how birth control essentially works against it.
On average, around the age of 12, each girl undergoes her first period. Each month, the same thing will happen. In her body, you’ll find two ovaries. During ovulation, the ovaries will release one egg into the Fallopian tubes. Here, they will wait to be fertilized. When the egg is NOT fertilized, it travels through the Fallopian tubes and into the uterus. In the time leading up to the period, the lining of the uterus is thickening in preparation of a fertilized egg. When the egg enters the uterus and it is not fertilized, this is what triggers the uterine lining to shed and it appears as blood during your period.
Opposite of this process, if the egg is fertilized by sperm while in the Fallopian tubes, it will then travel down into the uterus where it will begin to develop until a child grows to term. Birth control is set in place to stop this from happening.
While it seems like the same thing, many people believe that birth control pills stop pregnancy. This is the ultimate goal, yes, but the pills work before then. By saying this, you might be assuming that birth control pills prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg. This is where you’d be wrong. Birth control stops the entire process of ovulation. Essentially there is no egg to fertilize.
Birth control pills are filled with two hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. While it’s a spike in estrogen levels that cause the egg to be released during ovulation, the birth control pills help maintain balance in the hormones which stops the entire process of ovulation.
When women get a birth control prescription, they receive three weeks of hormone-filled pills and one week of placebo pills. Some women wonder whether these pills are absolutely necessary. The answer is no. These placebos are merely placeholders. It’s easier than you think to lose track of a pill you’re taking every day. The extra week of pills is to ensure that you’re starting your next set of pills at the right time.
While it is recommended that women take all of their pills, even the placebos, it’s not necessary. If you can remember the exact day to start your new set of pills, then you can cross those 7 extra pills off of your daily to-do list.