A Wide Variety of Birth Control Pill Options

February 4, 2011

If you've decided that birth control pills are the right contraceptive option for you, you still have some choices to make as far as which type of pill is the best for your unique situation. Although the pill is very convenient for most women, your physician may discourage you from taking the pill if you are older than thirty-five, smoke, have a history of heart disease or pulmonary embolism, frequent migraines, have a history of blood clots, stroke, breast, liver or endometrial cancer. If you have blood-clotting issues, liver or adrenal gland problems, diabetes-related complications or are about to be immobilized due to major surgery, you should probably not take the pill. Also, if you are currently taking the natural substance, St. John's Wort, or if you take prescription anticonvulsants, you should avoid taking the pill. To ensure you make the best choice for your age, health and lifestyle, take note of the following facts then make an informed decision.

Monophasic and Multiphasic

There are two types of combination pill-- the monophasic and the multiphasic. The monophasic pill contains a similar amount of both progestin and estrogen, while the multiphasic pill has varying amounts of hormones in the active pills. If you are concerned about the side-effects or possible health risks of the pill, you can choose a low-dose combination pill which contains a very low dose of estradiol--a type of estrogen. Some women are very hormone-sensitive, and may be better off taking a pill with much lower amounts of hormones. Be aware, however, that these pills can result in breakthrough bleeding between periods.

Mini-pill and Combination Pill

While the combination pill contains both progestin and estrogen, the mini-pill will contain only progestin. If you choose the combination pill, there are several combinations of pill packages, combining varying amounts of inactive and active pills. You may choose the package which has twenty-one active pills and seven inactive pills, or others will contain twenty-four active pills with four inactive pills. If you are taking this type of pill you will have a normal monthly period every month while you take the inactive pills. The second type packaging of the combination pills will contain seven inactive pills and eighty-four active pills. This type of package is good for women who prefer to have their periods less often, as bleeding will generally only occur four times per year while you are taking the inactive pills. There are also formulations on the market which contain twenty-eight pills, all of which are active, effectively eliminating your monthly period completely. Many insurance companies will not pay for this particular type of pill unless you have a specific medical reason from your doctor for wanting to take it.

The mini-pill basically has no variety or choices-there is only one basic type and package, and all the pills in the pack have active hormones in them. Cervical mucus is thickened by the mini-pill, while the endometrium is thinned out. The belief is that the thick cervical mucus stops the sperm from making its way to the egg. The mini-pill may also suppress ovulation, however it does not contain any estrogen. This type of pill does contain a dose of progestin, but it is much lower than in any of the combination pills. The combination birth control pills work by preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg, thus suppressing ovulation. As with the mini-pill, the combination pill also thickens the cervical mucus, and thins the uterus lining, preventing sperm from making its way to the egg.

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