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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.


Normal female anatomy


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.


FSH and LH from pituitary gland


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 estrogen


Release of LH:

The estrogen in the body cause the pituitary gland to release LH stimulating the ovary to produce a ripe egg.


Release of LH


Birth control pill:

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.


Birth control pill


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.


Progestin in pill



Review Date: 5/6/2007
Reviewed By: Rachel A. Lewis, MD, FAAP, Columbia University Pediatric Faculty Practice, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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