Not all birth control pills are created equal. In fact, there are many different types of birth control pills on the market, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most popular types of birth control pills, and where you can go in DeKalb County to receive high-quality gynecological care and easy access to reliable oral contraceptives.
There are two main types of birth control pills: the combination pill and the mini-pill.
The combination pill is so called because it is an oral medication that contains both estrogen and progestin, which play an important role in the menstrual cycle and in preventing pregnancy. The main way in which the combination pill works is that the estrogen in the pill stops your ovaries from releasing an egg, and it thickens the mucus on the cervix. All of these actions decrease the chances of sperm fertilizing an egg and the chances of the egg implanting in the uterus and creating a viable pregnancy.
The combination pill must be taken every single day. If taken consistently, the combination pill is up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but it can be less effective if you forget to take a pill.
Combination pills typically come in a pack of 28 pills – the first 21 pills contain hormones, and the last 7 pills do not contain hormones but do contain iron. The iron (brown) pills are often called placebo pills because they are meant to keep you in the habit of taking your pill every day. However, the iron in them will also help to replace the iron you lose when you have your period, so you should not develop anemia by taking them. During the week you take the placebo pills, you will have your period.
The dose of hormones in a pill varies by brand, and price can vary whether it is name-brand or generic. Combination pills typically contain 10-35 micrograms of a kind of estrogen called ethinyl estradiol. Lower doses tend to carry a slightly lower risk of blood clots, which is a rare side effect of estrogen in taking birth control pills.
The mini-pill is similar to the combination pill in that it is an oral medication that effectively prevents pregnancy. However, there are some important differences between them.
The mini-pill does not contain estrogen – it only contains progestin. This is beneficial for women who are sensitive to estrogen or are at risk of blood clots, as estrogen increases the risk of these conditions.
Progestin works to prevent pregnancy mainly by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining, thereby preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg. In some women, it can also prevent ovulation.
The mini-pill must be taken every single day at the exact same time (or within three hours of that time) to be considered effective. If taken consistently it can be up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but this can decrease if the pill is missed or not taken within the three-hour window.
The mini-pill also comes in a pack of 28 pills, but there are no placebos to take during the week of your period– every pill contains hormones. You may have your period during the fourth week, you may only have intermittent spotting, or you may not have your period at all.
Like the combination pill, the dose of hormones in a pill varies by the brand, and price can vary whether it is name-brand or generic. All mini-pills contain less progestin per pill than the amount in combination pills, and they are still effective in preventing pregnancy.
The best type of birth control pill for you depends on your individual health and lifestyle. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all your options before making a decision.
Here is a list of some important questions to ask your OB/GYN doctor when considering which type of birth control pill you want to use:
Here at Dekalb Women’s Specialists, our board-certified OB/GYNs, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives are highly experienced in every stage of a woman’s life and health. We are more than happy to thoroughly discuss with you the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pill based on your health, and we can help you feel empowered when making decisions about your fertility, preventing pregnancy, and family planning.