Types of birth control pills vary in composition, so that every woman can choose the option that is best for her individual body.
“The pill” has remained popular with women across the U.S. and throughout the world because, compared to other birth control methods, it is easy to use and has long proven to be very effective. There are numerous types of birth control pills. It is simpler to choose the right birth control pill for your needs if you keep in mind that they all actually belong to one of the few categories below.
Benefits of Birth Control Pills
In addition to preventing pregnancy, the estrogen and progestin (female hormones) in birth control pills may provide additional health benefits:
- Decrease heavy menstrual flow
- Reduce cramping
- Reduce acne outbreak duration and severity
- Reduce PMS symptoms
- Increase bone minerals (to maintain density)
- Manage symptoms from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Help control symptoms of various other health conditions
It takes about three months to determine whether or not the formula you have chosen is working for you. You may need to try more than one of the following types to find the right birth control pill for your body.
Conventional birth control packets usually contain either:
- 21 active birth control pills and 7 inactive pills, or
- 24 active birth control pills and 4 inactive pills.
Your menstrual bleeding will occur each month during the days that you are taking the inactive pills.
Combination birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin. There are three varieties of combination pills. All three provide the same level of pregnancy prevention. Because each woman’s body is unique, you may experience more of the previous benefits mentioned from one formula than from another.
- Monophasic — Consistent amounts of estrogen and progestin are taken throughout the 21-day cycle. The steady hormone intake may cause fewer side effects.
- Biphasic — The amount of estrogen remains the same, while the progestin dosage is changed during the 21-day cycle. The change is intended to mimic the body’s natural hormone fluctuations to help minimize irregular bleeding.
- Triphasic — Estrogen and progestin amounts are both changed during the 21-day cycle.
Your doctor may recommend trying a different formula if typical side effects such as nausea, bloating, headaches, breast tenderness, or breakthrough bleeding or spotting are severe or do not disappear after several months of use.
Combination pills are also available in extended 91-day cycle formulas. The extended cycle alternative is one of today’s more progressive methods of birth control.
- The cycle includes 84 active birth control pills and 7 inactive pills. However, in some extended cycle pills, the last 7 are active but contain estrogen only. These pills are designed to attempt to eliminate periods completely, rather than 4 times a year.
- This cycle, with the last 7 pills being inactive allows you to reduce your menstrual periods from one each month to only four per year.
The mini pill contains a low dose of progestin (no estrogen).
- The mini pill must be taken at the same time each day to help ensure effectiveness against pregnancy.
- The progestin thins the uterine lining, which helps reduce heavy menstrual flow. However, because of this, women who use the mini pill are more likely to have irregular and prolonged bleeding episodes.
- This is why the mini pill is primarily used for breast feeding patients who are usually amenorrheic, or for those patients where the use of estrogens is contraindicated.
The Woman’s Clinic
If you would like help selecting the most appropriate birth control options for your needs, contact the Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131 for an appointment to see a board certified Little Rock gynecologist.
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