The internal female reproductive organs include the uterus, ovaries, cervix and vagina. These organs are necessary to produce a successful pregnancy. To prevent pregnancy, birth control pills affect how these organs normally function.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Lutenizing Hormone (LH) stimulate the ovary into producing a ripe egg ready for fertilization by sperm during a normal ovulation cycle.
During a normal menstrual cycle, hormones stimulate the ovary causing an egg to ripen. The uterine lining thickens preparing itself for implantation of a fertilized egg and the cervical mucus thins to help sperm reach the egg.
The estrogen in the body cause the pituitary gland to release LH stimulating the ovary to produce a ripe egg.
The lower levels of estrogen in birth control pills supress FSH and LH "fooling" the pituitary gland into thinking a woman is pregnant. Ovulation will then not occur which prevents pregnancy.
The progesterone in birth control pills creates a thick cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to reach the uterus. It also impedes an egg from attaching itself to the uterine lining (endometrium) because of changes in the cellular structure of the lining.
Review Date: 3/30/2010
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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