|Normal female anatomy|
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.
|FSH and LH from pituitary gland|
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.
|Release of estrogen|
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.
|Release of LH|
The estrogen in the body causes the pituitary gland to release LH stimulating the ovary to produce a ripe egg.
|Birth control pill|
The lower levels of estrogen in birth control pills suppress FSH and LH, "fooling" the pituitary gland into thinking a woman is pregnant. Ovulation will then not occur, which prevents pregnancy.
|Progestin in pill|
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.
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.