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Contraceptives belong to a class of drugs used to prevent pregnancy but can be prescribed to treat heavy menstrual periods, regulate periods or for painful periods. Sometimes they are used to treat acne. Contraceptives are types of hormones (estrogen and progestin) combined in different ways to either keep the lining of the uterus from being prepared for a pregnancy, inhibit the release of an egg, or make the environment unfriendly to sperm. When used as prescribed, contraceptives are successful in preventing pregnancy and fail in only one half of a percent of the population. There is a wide range of different contraceptives available with different types of tablet packets designed to make taking the dose easy and so you won’t forget. Lutera, is a contraceptive that comes in a 28-day pack.

Specific contraceptives such as Yaz, are also used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This disorder is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.

Contraceptives need to be taken exactly as prescribed to maintain effectiveness. Missed doses could expose you to pregnancy. If you are ill with either diarrhea or vomiting, another method of birth control may be needed.

Side effects of contraceptives include nausea, constipation, changes in weight, vaginal discharge, irritation of the vagina, changes in menstrual flow, spotting between periods, acne, changes in appetite, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, breast soreness, unusual hair growth, dark skin patches and swelling of the gums. Contraceptives may increase the chance of liver tumors (non-cancerous), breast cancer, liver cancer, heart attack, stroke or blood clots. Smokers have a much greater risk of side effects, especially heart problems.

Contraceptives are most often taken orally, but can be injected, implanted, used in a skin patch such as Ortho Evra or received through intrauterine devices.

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