The combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), often referred to as the birth-control pill or colloquially as "the Pill", is a birth control method that includes a combination of an estrogen (estradiol) and a progestogen (progestin). When taken by mouth every day, these pills inhibit female fertility. They were first approved for contraceptive use in the United States in 1960, and are a very popular form of birth control. They are currently used by more than 100 million women worldwide and by almost 12 million women in the United States. Use varies widely by country, age, education, and marital status: one third of women aged 16–49 in the United Kingdom currently use either the combined pill or a progestogen-only "minipill", compared to only 1% of women in Japan.
Combined oral contraceptive pills should be taken at the same time each day. If one or more tablets are forgotten for more than 12 hours, contraceptive protection will be reduced. Most brands of combined pills are packaged in one of two different packet sizes, with days marked off for a 28 day cycle. For the 21-pill packet, a pill is consumed daily for three weeks, followed by a week of no pills. For the 28-pill packet, 21 pills are taken, followed by week of placebo or sugar pills. A woman on the pill will have a withdrawal bleed sometime during the placebo week, and is still protected from pregnancy during this week. There are also two newer combination birth control pills (Yaz 28 and Loestrin 24 Fe) that have 24 days of active hormone pills, followed by 4 days of placebo.
A pill organizer, pill container, or pill box is a special container for storing scheduled doses of one's medications. Pill organizers usually have square shaped compartments for each day of the week, although other discreet forms have come to market in recent times, including cylindrical and pen-shaped cases. Some have sections for different times of the day. Pill organizers are viewed as a way to prevent or reduce medication errors on the part of the patient.
Pill organizers are useful for all types of patients, including the elderly and others with memory deficiencies, and for those taking multiple medications as an aid in remembering to take proper doses of their medications. They allow a patient to know whether or not they have taken a particular dose of their medication, since if a pill still remains in its compartment, it shows that it has not been taken, whereas if it is missing, it has been taken.