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 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:
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.
There are many advantages to using a combination pill:
There are some disadvantages to taking the combination contraceptive pill, which should be considered before you decide to take it. Side effects could include:
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.
The advantages of extended cycle pills are the same as combination pills, as well as:
The extended cycle pills have the same disadvantages as the combination pill, with the addition of:
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:
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.
The advantages of taking the progestin-only minipill may include:
Disadvantages of the minipill may be:
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:
Like the combination pill, when used correctly, low-dose pills can be more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
The low-dose pill has several pros:
There are some potential side effects to using a low-dose birth control pill:
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 include:
No serious side effects have been reported when using emergency contraception. However, minor disadvantages can include:
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.