“The Pill” is a pill. Some people call it “oral contraception.” It is taken once a day, at the same time every day. There are lots of different kinds of pills on the market. They all work by releasing hormones that keep the ovaries from releasing an egg. The hormones also thicken cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg, and thin the lining of the uterus, which may prevent implantation.


The pill is very effective when taken every day at the same time, without missing any days (93%).  This means that statistically 7 out of every 100 users will get pregnant using this method in the first year (Hatcher, et al. Contraceptive Technology. 21st ed. New York, NY: Ayer Company Publishers, Inc., 2018.)


Depending on whether it is generic or full price, the pill can cost about $25 a month.

  • With Medicaid: Free or a small co-pay
  • With insurance: Usually the cost of your co-pay
  • Without insurance: $10-$20 (generic at pharmacies); $20-30 (some family planning clinics); $60-$90 (name brand at pharmacies)


The pill is taken every day, at roughly the same time, to be most effective. The pill requires a prescription from a doctor or clinic.

Side effects

Bleeding between periods, sore breasts, headaches, nausea and vomiting, mood swings, decreased sex drive, and for a small number of women using combined oral contraception, blood clots, or stroke. For smokers, the risk of cardiovascular problems is much higher. If you are older than 35 years and smoke, have a history of blood clots or breast cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill.

Pill contraceptive

effective (Hatcher, et al, 2018)