Since their legalization decades ago, birth control pills have given women the liberty to live life on their own terms. While there are other methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies, contraceptive pills are one of the most popular options, and for a good reason. They are easy to use, readily available, come with minimal to no side effects, and, more importantly, they are very effective. If you are looking to begin using this birth control method, read on to discover the different types of pills and how they work.
Types of Birth Control Pills
Contraceptive pills are made of synthetic hormones similar to those found in your body. These pills are available in two primary forms – Mini and Combination pills.
- Mini Pills
This birth control pill contains only progestin. It prevents pregnancy by thickening your cervical mucus to prevent sperm cells from reaching and fertilizing the ovum (your egg cell). Mini pills also cause your uterine wall to become thick, which prevents a fertilized ovum from being implanted. Some of these pills also directly suppress ovulation.
Who Are They Made For?
- Women who are sensitive to estrogen
- Those with an elevated risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and heart attacks.
- Those with a history of stroke
- Heavy smokers are also advised to take this pill as it doesn’t contribute to blood clots
Merits of Mini Pills
- They won’t affect your sex drive
- May reduce or stop menstrual bleeding
- Mini pills don’t delay fertility when you stop taking them
- Can be used when breastfeeding
- Sometimes cause headaches
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
- Might lead to irregular bleeding
- Combination Pills
These contraceptive pills contain two types of hormones, including progestin and estrogen. They prevent pregnancy in three ways:
- Suppressing ovulation, which prevents your ova (eggs) from leaving the ovaries
- They thicken the cervical mucus
- By thinning your uterine wall
These pills are more popular than the mini pills. Combination pills also contain varying amounts of progestin and estrogen, with doses varying between 20 and 35 micrograms.
For Whom Are These Pills Intended?
These pills are ideal for any woman without medical conditions and those that don’t smoke. People who aren’t eligible for taking combination birth control pills include:
- Overweight women
- Smokers who are 35 years or older
- Those with a history of a blood clots
- Women who experience migraines
- Those with stroke, heart complication, high blood pressure, or a history of these issues
- Women with breast cancer
Merits of Combination Pills
In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancies, the combined birth control pills provide other benefits that include:
- Regulating periods, in addition to making them shorter and lighter
- Reducing menstrual cramps
- They go a long way in shielding you from pelvic inflammatory illness
- With these pills, you are less likely to develop fibroids, ovarian cysts, and benign breast issues
- They mitigate the risk of cancer, especially in the colon, uterus, and ovaries
Demerits of Combination Pills
- While these pills are super effective against the risk of unwanted pregnancy among other issues, they won’t shield you from sexually transmitted diseases
- You may also experience spotting and bleeding especially during the first few months of using them
- They can potentially cause a spike in your blood pressure
Combination birth control pills include the conventional pack that’s typically comprised of 21 active pills and seven inactive ones. Conversely, the package may contain 24 active and four inactive pills. With the inactive pills, you can expect to bleed every month.
Additionally, there is continuous dosing, also known as the extended cycle pills. These often comprise of 84 active and seven inactive pills. Taking the inactive pills causes bleeding four times a year. There also exist formulations containing active pills only, which eliminate bleeding entirely.
The Bottom Line
With so many varieties of birth control pills available in the market today, you have plenty of options to choose from. However, it is imperative to consult with your healthcare provider and determine what best works for you.