Every Body Is Different: How to Choose the Best Birth Control Pill for You

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60% of all women of reproductive age use some type of birth control. 

Birth control pills were legalized in the 1960s. Since then, they have been a hugely popular form of birth control. 

Birth control pills recreate the hormones that are naturally produced in your body. They are highly effective, easily available, and safe and easy to use. They have limited side effects and, in some instances, actually have health benefits.  

Everybody is different, and you need to choose the best birth control pill for you. There are plenty of options to choose from, which is why we’ve put together a guide about the ones available. Keep reading to find out which one may be the best birth control pill for you.

Combination Pills

Combination pills are a blend of two hormones; estrogen and progestin. The pill is taken orally at the same time each day.

The combination birth control pill prevents pregnancy by:

  1. Stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg. The eggs are not released, so they cannot be fertilized;
  2. Preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. Sperm is stopped because the cervical mucus is thickened;
  3. Thinning the endometrial lining of the uterus. That way, if an egg is fertilized, it cannot attach. 

The standard dosing usually involves taking 21 active pills (which contain the hormones) followed by 7 days of taking no pills or inactive pills (which don’t contain the hormones). This means that you will get your period on the 7 days that you take no pills or inactive pills. The exact numbers of days may vary depending on the brand that you use.

If used correctly, combination birth control pills are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Popular brands available in the US include Loestrin, Yasmin, and Yaz.

Advantages of Combination Pills

There are many advantages to using a combination pill:

  • May be best for women aged under 35;
  • Shorter, lighter and more regular periods;
  • Less severe menstrual cramps;
  • Less severe pre-menstrual stress;
  • Reduced acne.

Disadvantages of Combination Pills

There are some disadvantages to taking the combination contraceptive pill, which should be considered before you decide to take it. Side effects could include:

  • Breast tenderness; 
  • Headaches;
  • Bloating and weight gain;
  • Nausea;
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods;
  • Potentially increased risk of blood clots.

Extended Cycle Pills

Extended cycle pills are a form of combination pill, containing both estrogen and progestin.

However, these pills allow women to have longer menstrual cycles, and are designed to be taken for longer. Active pills are typically taken for 12 or 13 weeks, followed by no pills or inactive pills for one week. You will still get your period, just less often.

Like the combination pill, extended cycle pills are 98% effective as long as they are taken at the same time every day.

Advantages of Extended Cycle Pills

The advantages of extended cycle pills are the same as combination pills, as well as:

  • Fewer periods;
  • Potentially lighter, shorter periods.

Disadvantages of Extended Cycle Pills

The extended cycle pills have the same disadvantages as the combination pill, with the addition of:

  • Possibility of spotting between periods;
  • Possibility of heavier periods.


Minipills contain only the progestin hormone. They must be taken at the same time every day, and every pill is an active one.

Minipills prevent pregnancy in a similar way to combination pills:

  1. It stops sperm from reaching a female egg by thickening cervical mucus;
  2. It thins the lining of the uterus so the fertilized egg cannot attach.

However, minipills do not stop ovaries releasing eggs as consistently as a combination pill. 

Like combination pills, the minipill is approximately 99% effective when taken correctly. However, the minipill has a higher failure rate. If not taken at the same time every day, your risk of falling pregnant is increased for 48 hours.

Popular brands include Norethisterone and Ortho Micronor.

Advantages of Minipills 

The advantages of taking the progestin-only minipill may include: 

  • May be best for women aged over 35;
  • Safer option if you are at risk of blood clots, high blood pressure, cardiovascular concerns, or if you suffer from migraines;
  • Can be a good option if you are sensitive or particularly reactive to estrogen;
  • Can be used immediately after giving birth, or if you are breastfeeding.

Disadvantages of Minipills

Disadvantages of the minipill may be: 

  • Has to be taken at the same time of day – every day – to be effective; 
  • Slightly higher failure rate than the combination pill;
  • Potential side-effects if taking certain medications such as anticonvulsants;  
  • Breast tenderness;
  • Weight gain;
  • Acne;
  • Decreased libido.

Low-Dose Pills

Low-dose pills are a type of combination pill that contains a lower dose of hormones. They are as reliable and effective as other pills, but have fewer side effects. They are taken every day but, unlike the minipill, it is not as important to take it at exactly the same time.

Low-dose pills contain lower levels of estrogen. This prevents common side effects such as headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness. 

They work the same way as combination pills by:

  1. Preventing the ovary from releasing an egg;
  2. Preventing sperm from reaching an egg;
  3. Preventing a fertilized egg implanting by thinning of the uterus’ lining.

Like the combination pill, when used correctly, low-dose pills can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. 

Advantages of Low-Dose Pills

The low-dose pill has several pros:

  • It’s not mandatory to take it at the same time every day for it to be effective and reliable;
  • Fewer estrogen-related side effects;
  • Fewer side effects than higher-dose pills;
  • Less severe menstrual cramping;
  • Less severe pre-menstrual stress;
  • Improved acne.

Disadvantages of Low-Dose Pills

There are some potential side effects to using a low-dose birth control pill:

  • Small risk of increased blood pressure;
  • Rare potential for blood clots and deep vein thrombosis;
  • Bleeding between periods;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is used after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy. This is usually used after unprotected sex or a condom break.

Emergency contraception should not be used regularly. It should be used in emergencies when regular birth control fails or is not used correctly.

There are various types of emergency contraception, including combination, progestin-only, and anti-progestin pills. It’s generally advised that you take the pill as soon as possible after sex. If you wait longer, it will become less effective.

Advantages of Emergency Contraception

Advantages of emergency contraception include:

  • Available over the counter;
  • Identification isn’t required;
  • Can be purchased by persons of any gender;
  • Inexpensive;
  • Highly effective;
  • Little to no side effects;
  • Only take once.

Disadvantages of Emergency Contraception 

No serious side effects have been reported when using emergency contraception. However, minor disadvantages can include:

  • Lightheadedness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Nausea;
  • May not be suitable for women taking medication for liver problems, epilepsy, or severe asthma; 
  • Vomiting within two hours of taking the pill will make it ineffective.

Find The Best Birth Control Pill for You

Deciding to take birth control is a responsible decision.

Talk to your doctor and gynecologist, and take a look at the birth control pills available to find the best birth control pill for you.

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