The combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), often referred to as the birth control pill or colloquially as "the pill", is a type of birth control that is designed to be taken orally by women. It includes a combination of an estrogen (usually ethinylestradiol) and a progestogen (specifically a progestin). When taken correctly, it alters the menstrual cycle to eliminate ovulation and prevent pregnancy.
They were first approved for contraceptive use in the United States in 1960, and are a very popular form of birth control. They are used by more than 100 million women worldwide and by almost 12 million women in the United States. From 2015 to 2017, 12.6% of women aged 15–49 in the US reported using oral contraception, making it the second most common method of contraception in this age range with female sterilization being the most common method. Use varies widely by country, age, education, and marital status. For example, one third of women aged 16–49 in the United Kingdom currently use either the combined pill or progestogen-only pill (POP), compared with less than 3% of women in Japan (as of 1950-2014).Combined oral contraceptives are on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.