STD Home > Advantages and Disadvantages of Heather and How It Works
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using HeatherProgestin-only birth control pills (such as Heather) have several advantages and disadvantages. They are the preferred type of birth control pill for women who are breastfeeding, as they usually do not interfere with the quantity and quality of breast milk (see Nor-QD and Breastfeeding).
Also, this type of birth control pill may be preferred for women who are at a high risk for blood clots or other problems that can be caused or worsened by estrogen. Some of the women who may be at a high risk for these problems include those who:
- Are smokers
- Are over 35 years old
- Have a history of blood clots, heart disease, or various other problems.
The primary disadvantage to Heather and other progestin-only pills is that they are less effective than combined oral contraceptives. Other downsides include irregular (and often unpredictable) periods, compared to combined oral contraceptives (which cause very regular and predictable periods).
Also, compared to combined oral contraceptives, there is less room for error (such as missing pills or taking them late) with progestin-only pills. For instance, taking Heather just a few hours late can increase the risk of pregnancy.
Another disadvantage is that Heather and other progestin-only pills may increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, sometimes called a "tubal pregnancy").
How Does Heather Work?Heather and other progestin-only oral contraceptives stop ovulation in only about half of the women who take them. Because Heather is not very effective at preventing ovulation, it also relies on other mechanisms to prevent pregnancy. Specifically, it alters the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium), making it less receptive to an embryo. It also changes the cervical mucus (the fluid of the cervix, which is the lower, narrow part of the uterus that is connected to the vagina), making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.
Unlike combined oral contraceptives, there are no inactive or "placebo" pills in each pack of Heather. Every tablet contains the active hormone, and there is no break in between pills or packs. As a result, menstrual periods often occur at irregular intervals.