Access to a healthcare professional that understands this and is able to evaluate your needs while considering your preferences simultaneously, is important.
There are mainly two types of birth control pills: combination pills and progestin pills. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand how they work.
- Contain both synthetic estrogen and progestin (which is synthetic progesterone)
- Most pills contain hormones – only towards the end of the period you get pills that do not contain hormones
- There are three types of combination pills
Monophasic pills: Used throughout the cycle – one month cycle – with a constant hormone dose in each pill. The last week of the cycle consists of pills that do not contain hormones
Multiphasic pills: Unlike the monophasic pills, these have pills with varying levels of hormones during the one-month cycle. Like the monophasic pills above, the last week consists of pills that do not have hormones
Extended cycle pills: These work on a 13-week schedule. Patients take pills that contain hormones for 12 weeks and then on the 13th week pills that do not have hormones in them.
Patients will have a period only three or four times a year with extended cycle pills. With both monophasic and multiphasic, patients can expect to have a period regularly, within their 28-day cycle.
Besides combination pills, there are also progestin pills – also known as mini pills. These have the following characteristics:
- Only one hormone – progestin. No estrogen.
- All the pills contain hormones
- This might lead the patient to skip their period
- Mini pills – progesterin – work by thickening the mucus around the cervix. That prevents the sperm from reaching and therefore fertilizing the egg. In some cases, mini pills can also prevent ovulation altogether.
- Combination pills prevent ovulation. They can also change the thickness of the mucus, preventing sperm from getting to the egg.
As you can see, each kind of pill works differently. Therefore, the most popular birth control pill might only be telling you that the biggest group of women who take that pill, might react well to it, or that it fits their health considerations. When you look for the right birth control pills for you, the most popular might not be the one that is well-suited for your needs. That is exactly why you should always consult with a physician.
How Effective is the Birth Control Pill?
If you never miss a pill during your cycle, birth control pills will be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Nevertheless, there are a few issues you should consider:
- There are birth control pills that should be taken at the same time every day
- No birth control pill is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy
- Birth control pills are a contraceptive; they do not play any role in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
Can the Birth Control Pill Make You Gain Weight?
Weight gain is not a long-term side effect for birth control pills. In most cases, any weight gain that patients experience after they start taking birth control pills, is due to retention of liquid. There is no consistent indication that birth control pills would cause a patient’s body to accumulate more fat. Therefore, weight gain is not listed as a side effect.
What are the Alternatives to the Birth Control Pill?
If for any reason you cannot take any of the birth control pills available in the market, or you would prefer to resort to a different method of contraception, there are a few alternatives you can explore:
- In case you are forgetful, you can use a contraceptive implant that will release hormones to make it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg or discourage ovulation.
- IUDs, or Intrauterine Devices, block sperm from reaching the egg. They do so with the use of copper, which acts as a spermicide. IUDs are at least 97.8% effective.
- Condoms are a highly effective alternative to birth control pills when used properly. The added benefit of using condoms is that they are also effective in preventing the transmission of STDs and you do not need a prescription to buy them.
- Spermicides are much less effective than any method discussed previously. In about 28% of the cases spermicides fail.
- Sponge and diaphragm – are both devices that women can place intravaginally to block the passage of sperm through the cervix. The sponge has spermicide, and the diaphragm should be used with spermicide to increase its efficiency. Both depend on placing the device correctly, which makes them less popular.
- Sterilization is a method that should be considered irreversible. As far as efficiency is concerned, it is highly effective – probably the most effective contraceptive method there is. Nevertheless, it is not viable for anyone who wants to have children.