Birth control pills are a type of medicine used to prevent or delay pregnancy. Although there are many different types the two overarching, most common variations are progestin-only pills and combination pills. These pills vary in their attributes, benefits, uses, and potential side effects. In the following 4-minute article, we discuss the different types of birth control pills, how to take them, and their potential associated side effects.
Birth control refers to a number of methods used to prevent pregnancy before it begins. Most often, when people speak about birth control, they are referring to the birth control pill. Birth control pills are safe and affordable methods of preventing pregnancy. They generally come in a pack of pills, and one pill should be taken each day.
Although most people refer to the birth control pills as simply birth control, there are actually significant differences between the two forms. Combination pills contain both progestin and estrogen, while progestin-only pills contain only progestin, as the name suggests. Read on to learn more about combination and progestin-only birth control pills.
Combination birth control pills are named as such because they contain a combination of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, referred to as progestin in its synthetic form. Estrogen is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate the menstrual cycle. It is primarily produced in women by the ovaries, although the adrenal glands and fat cells also generate small amounts of estrogen. Progesterone is a sex hormone released by the ovaries that plays a role in the hormonal cycle.
There are multiple types of combination birth control pills which vary in effectiveness and attributes;
Monophasic Pills: These pills are used in 1-month intervals; each active pill provides the same hormonal dose. During the last week of the cycle, you can skip (or take) the inactive pills and still have your period.
Extended-cycle Pills: These pills are usually taken in 13-week cycles. You may take active pills for 12 weeks, and during the last week of the cycle, skip or take the inactive pills and have your period.
Multiphasic Pills: Similarly to monophasic pills, multiphasic pills are used in 1-month cycles and provide different levels of hormones during the cycle. When you are on the last week of the cycle you can take or skip the inactive pills. You will still have your period.
Like the progestin-only pill, combination birth control is nearly 100% effective if taken correctly. Most people, however, have minor lapses and do not take the birth control pill exactly as they should every time. As a result, most experts peg the average effectiveness of the combination birth control pill at around 91%.
When taken correctly, the combination birth control pill is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The standard way to take the pill is to take 1 pill every day for 21 days in a row. You then take a break for 7 days where you do not take the pill at all. Then, the cycle repeats again. Be sure to take the pill at the same time every day for the first 21 days.
Combination birth control is a reliable contraceptive form that offers many benefits in addition to preventing pregnancy. These include the following perks:
Combination birth control pills may not be appropriate for everyone. Your doctor may recommend you take the progestin-only pill if you fall into any of the following categories:
Taking combination birth control can cause unwanted, but mild side effects. It is also important to note that combination birth control pills will not protect you from sexually transmitted disease. Some of the following side effects, most notably nausea and breast tenderness, should decrease with continued use.
Progestin-only birth control pills are oral contraceptives that contain the hormone progestin. Unlike hormonal birth control, the progestin-only pill does not contain the female hormone estrogen. The progestin dosage in a progestin-only pill is lower than the progestin dosage in the combination birth control pill.
This pill works by thickening cervical mucus and thinning the lining of the uterus in an effort to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. For maximum effectiveness, it is recommended that you take the progestin-only pill at the same time every day.
As long as you are not pregnant, you can take the progestin-only birth control pill at any time. Your healthcare provider may recommend the progestin-only pill over the combination form if you fall into any of the following categories:
You’re Breastfeeding: Although evidence is still somewhat inconclusive, studies have shown that the estrogen in combination birth control inhibits breast milk production and makes breast feeding less effective.
Health Concerns: Women with a history of blood clots in the legs, chest, or lungs may be at higher risk for negative side effects of combination birth control pills.
You Don’t Want To Take Estrogen: Some women choose to take progestin-only birth control over combination pills because they have concerns about the possible side effects of increased estrogen.
Before you can take progestin birth control, you first need a prescription from a healthcare provider. Cloud9 healthcare offers affordable, accessible birth control that ships to you in just a couple of days.
After you have obtained a prescription for progestin birth control, it is recommended that you follow these guidelines and steps:
As long as you are not pregnant, you can take progestin birth control anytime, ideally on the first day of your menstrual cycle. Your healthcare provider might recommend using an additional birth control method, such as a condom, for the first few days. However, you may be able to skip backup birth control if you start taking progestin birth control:
Even if you meet one of the above criteria, it is recommended that you speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional to ensure that you can skip backup birth control. Your doctor may recommend an additional treatment course not listed here, if it is more appropriate.
Taking progestin-only birth control can cause unwanted, but mild side effects. You should also be aware that, like combination birth control pills, progestin birth control pills will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. It is estimated that as many as 13% of women who use progestin-only birth control will get pregnant within a year of consistent use. The failure rate of the progestin pill is thought to be much higher than the combination pill and other contraceptive methods. The following side effects of the progestin pill are quite common:
If taken correctly and at proper times, progestin-only birth control pills are more than 99% effective. This statistic indicates that fewer than 1 out of 100 people who correctly take progestin-only birth control will get pregnant within a year. With typical, imperfect use, 94% of women will not get pregnant within a year of using the pill.
Birth control pills are safe and affordable methods of preventing pregnancy. They generally come in a pack of pills, and one pill should be taken each day.
The two most common types of birth control are progestin-only pills and combination pills, which contain both progesterone and estrogen. Although their associated side effects and dosages may vary, both pills are more than 90% effective when taken correctly.