Types Of Birth Control Pills: Everything You Need To Know
In this post, we’ll discuss the different types of birth control pills avaialable in the market.
Birth control pills are one of the most common methods for female contraception. A majority of women in their childbearing age use oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. This is because the tablets are easily available, safe, with limited side effects, used to treat many health disorders, and highly effective.
The medicine contains female sex hormones used to stop monthly ovulation so that no egg is available for the sperm to fertilize. Also, the medication stops any fertilized egg from implanting on the uterus lining.
In the below-given post, we will discuss about types of best birth control pills you can use.
Types of Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives contain estrogen and progestin – the manmade version of female sex hormones. These hormones are produced naturally in your body. Depending on the needs of your body and recommendation of your doctor, a birth control medication type will be provided to you.
Below, we have explained the various types of oral contraceptives available today:
1. Combination Pills
This type of medicine contains both progestin and estrogen. You need to take with water every day at the same time. The medication regulates menstrual cycle.
2. Progestin-only Pills
This medication contains the synthetic version of progesterone. It is also known as the minipill. The progestin pills, like the combination pill, should be taken orally every day.
3. Low-dose Pills
These pills could be either progestin-only or combination pill. The medication contains a lower dose of hormone compared the ones mentioned above. These are quite effective like the high-dose pills. But these cause fewer side effects.
4. Extended Cycle Pills
This is a combination pill with progestin and estrogen. But, the medication is designed in a way for causing a longer menstrual cycle. For instance, you can have period every 12 weeks, instead of having 12 periods every year. Thus, you will get periods only 4 times in a year with extended cycle pills.
5. Emergency Contraception
Such type of medicine is taken after the intercourse to protect against pregnancy. It is taken usually when the female suspects her birth control could have failed. Mostly, it is rather than after an unprotected intimacy. These are available in different forms such as anti-progestin pill, combination pill, and progestin-only pill.
Also Read: Best Birth Control Options For Teens
Types Of Birth Control Pills: Which One’s The Best For You?
Everyone has different lifestyle, choices, and needs. Even the need of one’s body could be different than that of another person. This is why to know which the right birth control pill is for you; consultation with a doctor is necessary.
There could be many factors that come into play when choosing a contraceptive method. This may include how you respond to a treatment, your health history, and other considerations. It may take a few trial and errors to understand the right pill, but you will arrive to it eventually.
1. Combination Birth Control Pill
Combination birth control medicine has estrogen and progestin. You need to take one pill in every 24 hours at the same time each day. The medicine prevents the sperm from entering the uterus or reaching the egg. Thus, fertilization of egg does not happen.
This is because the cervical mucus becomes thick and does not allow the sperm to pass through the cervix. It also suppresses ovulation so that no egg is released. The medicine then thins the endometrial lining of the uterus. This does not allow any fertilized egg to implant.
- There are four types here – conventional combination pill, Monophasic pill, multiphasic pill, and extended cycle pill.
- Monophasic pills contain same amount of estrogen and progestin in every unit. When the hormone levels differ in each pill then it called multiphasic.
- The medicine pack contains usually 21 active pills and 7 inactive pills. The dosing is standard, one pill every day at the same time. You get the periods every month after the dosage of inactive pills.
- Some of the side effects are breast tenderness, nausea, weight gain, breakthrough bleeding, and risk to blood clots, stroke, and heart attack.
The pros include improved acne, less severe menstrual cramps, lighter and shorter periods, regular periods, less severe PMS, reduced risk of ovarian cancer, prevention of period-related anaemia.
The medication pack is 99% effective when taken correctly. But if not used correctly, then it is 91% effective. Use a backup method of contraception such as a condom for better efficacy.
2. Progestin-only Pill or Minipill
The minipill or progestin-only pill has synthetic version of progesterone. This medicine does not contain estrogen. It stops sperm from fertilizing a female egg by making the cervical mucus thick. The sperm does not reach uterus. It also makes the uterine lining thin so the egg does not implant. The medication does not however prevent the ovary from releasing egg. Like any other oral contraceptive, you need to take the pill every day once, at the same time.
- It has success rate of 99% when used correctly and 91% when not used correctly. It has a higher failure rate as compared to the combination pill if not taken at the same time every day.
- If you miss taken the dose on one day, abstain from intercourse for the next 48 hours or more. Or, you can use a backup birth control method like a condom to prevent a pregnancy.
- Pros of the medicine include shorter return to fertility, regular periods, and a safer option if you have cardiovascular concerns, high blood pressure, or migraines.
The doctor may recommend the minipill over combination pill if you are sensitive to the estrogen hormone. Or, it may be recommended if your family has a history of blood clots. This medication can also be prescribed during breastfeeding. This is safe to take after giving birth compared to other hormonal birth control medications.
Also Read: Progesterone Side Effects
3. Low-dose Pills
The low dose pills have lower amount of hormones. The medication contains 35 micrograms or less of the hormone estrogen. Some even contain as less as 20 micrograms of estrogen. The lower level of estrogen is associated with prevention of common side effects such as nausea, headache, tender breasts, etc.
However, the medicine is still effective to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The pill prevents ovulation, disallowing the sperm entering the uterus, and disables implantation of a fertilized egg by thinning the endometrial lining of the uterus.
- Doctors often prescribe this medicine because of its similar effectiveness to high-dose pills, and reduced side effects.
- The window period is also slightly larger as compared to a combination pill. Thus, if you have trouble taking the pill at the same time every day, then you can be prescribed a low-dose birth control pill.
- Pros include reduction of acne, regular periods, lesser side effects as compared to higher-dose pills, reduced side effects related to estrogen, less severe menstrual cramps, etc.
4. Extended Cycle Pills
This medication creates longer cycles. You have to take it over a longer period of time. It is typically taken for 12 to 13 weeks. Each day you have to consume an active pill for. After 12 to 13 weeks, you need not take any pill for a full week. Or you may take an inactive pill every day for a week.
With extended cycle pills, you get periods less often. Thus, you may get periods only 3 to 4 times in a year.
- This is a great choice if you wish to get lesser frequent periods or want to avoid periods altogether with continuous dosing.
- At times you may experience spotting. The pill pack is 99% effective and 91% effective, when used as per indication or not taken correctly, respectively.
- Pros of this medicine are fewer periods and shorter or lighter periods. Cons include heavier periods and spotting between periods.
Also Read: Common Contraception Myths
Any of these 4 types of birth control pills could be prescribed to you depending on your needs, health condition, preference, and lifestyle.
Emergency contraception is the last resort to cause a period so that you do not get pregnant after an unprotected intercourse or failed birth control. But taking the risk of depending on only emergency contraception is not advisable.
Rather you must use any of the regular methods of hormonal birth control for the best result.
March 27, 2020 Sam Bell