Unit 1 - Oral Contraceptives

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.

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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.

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  1. Oral contraceptives are used for preventing what?
    Oral contraceptives are one of the most effective ways of preventing pregnancy
  2. What do we call an unwanted effect of a drug?
    Side effects can be trivial or serious
  3. Birth control pills with the fewest side effects contain which hormone?
    It is produced naturally in the ovary
  4. What is a fertilised egg known as?
    A zygote is formed from the fusion of the male and female gametes
  5. Combined oral contraceptives contain which hormone?
    This suppresses the production of FSH
  6. Why is the contraceptive implant more effective than the oral contraceptive?
    Many women choose to have the implant for the convenience, effectiveness and lack of side effects
  7. The mini pill only contains one hormone. Which one?
    Progesterone is also found in the injection and implants. It is preferred by many women as there tend to be fewer side effects
  8. Where does fertilisation normally take place?.
    The fertilised egg then becomes implanted in the thickened wall of the uterus
  9. Oral contraceptives inhibit which hormone?
    This targets the ovary and carries the message that prepares an egg cell for release
  10. In humans, what are the male and female gametes called?
    When the egg fuses with the sperm it is said to be fertilised

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