Different types of birth control pills vary dramatically in composition to ensure all patients can find the formula that works best for their bodies.
Although birth control pills are designed to prevent pregnancy, the daily dose of female hormones estrogen and progestin provided by these pills also offer additional health benefits. Birth control pills can decrease menstrual flow rates and cramping for individuals who experience heavy, painful periods each month. The hormones also often help reduce the severity and duration of acne breakouts by offsetting the presence of androgens, or male hormones, circulating through your system. Some studies show that taking birth control pills daily can even decrease your chance of developing cancer in your ovaries or uterus. To enjoy the greatest benefits, you can explore your options to find the best type of birth control pill for your body.
The mini pill prevents pregnancy using progestin alone, instead of combining it with estrogen. The low dose of progestin actively thickens mucus to prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg released each month. This hormone also thins the endometrial lining to make it inhabitable for a fertilizing egg, just in case the sperm manages to penetrate the egg’s barrier. Thinning your uterine lining directly reduces menstrual flow to provide you with relief from heavy periods. To ensure the pill retains its effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, you must take it at the same time every day. For the mini pill, as well as any other type of birth control pill, it takes about 90 days to determine if the particular pill will work for you.
There are three different types of combination birth control pills, which use both progestin and estrogen:
- Monophasic: Even levels of estrogen and progestin provided through cycle days 1 to 21
- Biphasic: Static level of estrogen with two different progestin rates that switch mid-cycle
- Triphasic: Varying estrogen and progestin levels through day 21 of the cycle
All three combination pill varieties offer the same protection against pregnancy. Of these options, triphasic formulas are deemed the best types of birth control pills for acne. Since monophasic pills provide the same consistent level of estrogen and progestin in each pill, they are less likely to cause side effects and can contribute to less headaches, bloating, and breast tenderness. Both biphasic and triphasic pills attempt to mimic your natural hormone fluctuations, which can minimize the possibility of irregular bleeding. Since every woman’s internal system is unique, one pill formula might provide you better benefits than other options.
In the first few months of taking combination birth control pills, you may experience some breast tenderness, nausea, headaches, and breakthrough bleeding. Your doctor may suggest trying a different variety if the side effects do not gradually disappear or if side effects are really harsh. Birth control pills in rare cases can increase the risk of developing blood clots, heart problems, gallbladder disease, and liver tumors. You should report any rashes, mood swings, jaundice and unexplained pain, especially in the legs, to help your doctor watch for the onset of serious health complications.
Conventional vs Extended
Combination pills also come in conventional and extended cycle formulas. The conventional option contains 21 active pills and 7 placebo pills. The hormones are delivered on the first 21 days of the cycle, and then the placebo pills trigger the start of your period. The extended cycle pills, on the other hand, contain 84 hormone-filled pills and 7 placebos, which allows you to only have four periods a year.
Your doctor may even suggest birth control pills as a way to control symptoms caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, or other relevant health conditions. You may need to try several different pill options, or even brands, before finding the one that works the best for you.
If you would like more information on finding the best type of birth control pill for your body, contact the Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131 to set up a personal health consultation with one of our compassionate and experienced gynecologists.