This GCSE Biology quiz is all about oral contraceptives - the method of birth control commonly known as 'The Pill'.
Oral contraceptives are also known as birth control pills. Human fertility is controlled by hormones so oral contraceptives contain small amounts of female sex hormones that inhibit eggs from developing in the ovary. Pregnancy is prevented because if there is no egg produced there can be no baby. Control of a woman's fertility has been a significant factor in the improvement of millions of people's quality of life worldwide.
The pill is the most popular method of birth control in the UK. Women who are not having sex also use it, as it can help to make periods less painful, lighter and more regular.
The hormones used are oestrogen and progesterone which suppress the production of FSH in the ovaries. It is FSH that prepares an egg cell for fertilisation each month. Early forms of 'The Pill' contained higher levels of oestrogen than they do nowadays. This caused many side effects including weight gain, high blood pressure, mood changes and heart disease. Effectively, they informed the body that it was in a permanent state of pregnancy. Some oral contraceptives now only contain progesterone which puts a lot less stress on the woman's body.
There are ethical issues surrounding the use of the contraceptive pill. They can help a couple to decide the time when they start a family and also when to stop having children. There are some religions that prohibit the use of contraceptives, including oral contraceptives, however, they are often flexible enough to allow contraception if pregnancy would harm the mother, either physically or mentally.