Birth Control Pills Which One Is Right For Me – By team Updated June 21, 2022 Kristi C. Torres, Pharm.D. & Leslie Greenberg, M.D.
Since its first legalization in the United States in the 1960s, the birth control pill has become one of the most popular forms of female contraception. Sixty-five percent of all women of childbearing age use some type of birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to the CDC. And up to 99% of women who have had sex have used some form of contraception in the past. Many women choose to use birth control pills because of their ease of use, availability, safety, limited side effects, additional health benefits, and effectiveness.
Birth Control Pills Which One Is Right For Me
It’s no secret that everyone is different. Therefore, in order to determine the right birth control pill for you, you will need to have an open conversation with your doctor. Many factors should be considered when choosing a birth control pill, including your age, medical history, response to treatment, lifestyle, and preferences. The journey to find the best birth control pills for you can often take some trial and error and requires patience and honesty with your doctor.
How To Pick An Effective Birth Control
The recommendations above are based on the benefits of each type of birth control pill. You should always consult a medical professional and your healthcare provider before starting any new medication.
Birth control pills contain artificial versions of the hormone, estrogen and one of twelve different types of progestins. Women naturally produce estrogen and progesterone. There are three main types of birth control pills: combined estrogen and progesterone pills, progestin only, and continuous or extended cycle pills. There are many varieties of each type of pill, from brand name to generic, with dosages available in 28, 90 or 365 day active pill cycles. Different brands have the same hormones, they are simply given different names by different manufacturers. The specific pill that is best for you depends on your body’s needs, as well as your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
Combination pills are a mixture of hormones, an estrogen and a progestogen, taken once a day at the same time every day. The combined contraceptive pill prevents pregnancy in three ways:
There are four types of combination pills currently on the market in the United States: conventional combination pills, extended-cycle combination pills, monophasic combination pills, and multiphasic combination pills. The conventional combination pill contains both estrogen and progestin hormones and follows a standard dosing schedule. This usually includes 21 days of the active pill followed by seven inactive pills. The body has a withdrawal bleeding during the week on the inactive pills. When a combination pill contains the same dose of estrogen and progestin for the first 21 days in each pack. This is called monophasic. Multiphasic pills contain different amounts of estrogen and progestin depending on which week of the pill pack you are taking.
How To Use Birth Control Pills
Combined birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. However, the effectiveness of typical use is reduced to 93% of combined contraceptive pills. For maximum pregnancy prevention, take your pills at the same time each day and start new packs on time. To be more careful, use condoms as a backup method of contraception.
Extended cycle pills are also combination pills, however, they create longer cycles and are meant to be taken for longer periods of time. Unlike standard combined birth control pills, extended cycle combination pills are usually prescribed for 12-13 continuous weeks of active pills followed by a full week of inactive pills. This extended cycle pill allows you to still have your period, but less often.
Depending on your body and your diet, you can only take your period three or four times a year on this pill. If you want to skip your period altogether, a continuous dose may be prescribed at the discretion of your healthcare professional. Some women have vaginal bleeding, which usually decreases as the pill continues to be taken for longer. A continuous dosing schedule involves taking one combination pill daily without hormonal breaks. Continuous pills and no periods are safe for most women.
As a combined pill, the effectiveness of extended cycle pills is considered to be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy if used correctly. However, the efficiency drops to 91% if they are not taken perfectly. One way to ensure maximum protection against pregnancy is to set a daily alarm on your phone that reminds you to take your pill at the same time each day, and set an alert when you need to start your new pill pack. Some women use a method of birth control, such as condoms, for extra protection against pregnancy.
Important Facts About Over The Counter Birth Control Pills
The benefits of extended cycle pills are more similar to conventional combination pills, plus:
As a type of combination pill, the disadvantages of extended cycle pills are also similar to conventional combination pills, plus:
The mini-pill is a birth control pill that contains only one type of progestin, which is a synthetic version of the natural hormone, progesterone. Unlike the combined contraceptive pill, the mini-pill does not contain estrogen.
Minipills prevent pregnancy in the same way: they prevent sperm from reaching a female egg by thickening the cervical mucus, blocking the sperm’s path through the uterus to reach the egg. In the event that sperm arrives and fertilizes an egg, the minipill also thins the endometrial lining of the uterus so that the fertilized egg cannot implant. Minipills, however, do not prevent eggs from the ovary as regularly as a combination pill.
What Happens If You Stop Taking Birth Control Pills Mid Pack?
Progestin-only pills are oral contraceptives that are taken every day and should be taken at the same time each day to maximize their effectiveness.
The mini-pill is just as effective in preventing pregnancy as the combined pill (about 99%) if taken correctly. However, since the mini-pill must be taken at the same time every day, it has a higher failure rate than the combined pill. If they don’t take it at the same time, for example 9 a.m. Monday and then 11 a.m. on Tuesday, your risk of pregnancy increases for about 48 hours. About 13 out of 100 women get pregnant with the mini-pill, compared to 9 out of 100 women with the combined pill.
If you miss your scheduled dose on any given day, consider abstaining from sexual activity, taking an emergency contraceptive pill (Plan B or Ella), or using extra protection, such as a condom, for the next 48 hours or so. This extra precaution can help prevent unplanned pregnancy during dose interruptions.
There are several reasons why your doctor may recommend a progestin-only pill instead of the more common combination pill. For starters, the minipill does not contain estrogen, so this could be an advantage if you are sensitive to estrogen. Your doctor may prescribe you a progestin-only pill if you notice that you are sensitive to estrogen in a combination pill. You may also be prescribed the minipill if you have a family or personal history of blood clots. If you have a medical condition that places you in CDC medical eligibility class (MEC) 3 or 4, estrogen-containing pills are contraindicated. Examples of MEC 3 or 4 conditions are high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes and retinopathy. Finally, your doctor may prescribe the mini-pill if you are currently breastfeeding, as it is safe to use immediately after delivery and does not reduce breast milk production. As always, consult your doctor if you are breastfeeding and find the best birth control option for you. When you stop breastfeeding, let your doctor know because it is a good time to switch to combined pills.
The Best Birth Control Pill For You: A Guide To Contraceptive Options
Most prescription pills are considered low-dose birth control pills. It is a type of combined pill that, as the name suggests, lowers hormone levels. Specifically, low-dose pills contain 35 micrograms or less of estrogen, while very low-dose pills contain 20 micrograms or less of estrogen. Lowering estrogen levels prevents common side effects such as headaches, nausea, and tender breasts while maintaining effectiveness.
They work in the same way as regular combination pills by preventing ovulation, sperm from reaching an egg, and the inability of a fertilized egg to implant due to thinning of the endometrial lining of the uterus.
One of the reasons low-dose pills have become so popular over the past 20 years is that they are just as effective at preventing pregnancy and regulating menstrual cycles as their higher-dose counterparts. With typical use, low dose pills are 91% effective. When used perfectly, they can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
If you think you will find it difficult to take the pill at exactly the same time each day as the progestogen-only mini-pill requires, a low-dose pill may be recommended as an alternative, as it has a slightly longer duration. for when you take it every day.
Birth Control Side Effects Every Woman Should Know
As with most medications, there are potential side effects and downsides to using low-dose birth control pills:
Most pills available today are low dose. Here are some of the more common and popular brand names, with many generic versions also available:
Emergency contraceptive pills, otherwise known as
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