What are the types of birth control pills?
Combination pills contain synthetic (man-made) forms of the hormones estrogen and progestin. Most pills in each cycle are active, which means they contain hormones. The remaining pills are inactive, which means they don’t contain hormones. There are several types of combination pills:
- Monophasic pills: These are used in one-month cycles and each active pill gives you the same dose of hormone. During the last week of the cycle, you take inactive pills and have your period.
- Multiphasic pills: These are used in one-month cycles and provide different levels of hormones during the cycle. During the last week of the cycle, you take inactive pills and have your period.
- Extended-cycle pills: These are typically used in 13-week cycles. You take active pills for 12 weeks, and during the last week of the cycle, you take inactive pills and have your period. As a result, you have your period only three to four times per year.
Progestin-only pills contain progestin without estrogen. This type of pill is also called the minipill. Progestin-only pills may be a good choice for women who can’t take estrogen for health or other reasons. With these progestin-only pills, all pills in the cycle are active. There are no inactive pills, so you may or may not have a period while taking progestin-only pills.
Deciding on a type of birth control pill
Not every type of pill is a good fit for every woman. Talk to your doctor about which pill option would work best for you. Factors that can affect your choice include:
- your menstrual symptoms
- whether you are breastfeeding
- your cardiovascular health
- other chronic health conditions you may have
- other medications you may take
How do birth control pills work?
Combination pills work in two ways. First, they prevent your body from ovulating. This means that your ovaries won’t release an egg each month. Second, these pills cause your body to thicken your cervical mucus. This mucus is fluid around your cervix that helps sperm travel to your uterus so it can fertilize an egg. The thickened mucus helps prevent sperm from reaching the uterus.
Progestin-only pills also work in a few different ways. Mainly, they work by thickening your cervical mucus and by thinning your endometrium. Your endometrium is the lining of your uterus where an egg implants after it’s fertilized. If this lining is thinner, it’s harder for an egg to implant in it, which will prevent a pregnancy from growing. In addition, progestin-only pills may prevent ovulation.
At Medfemme Women’s Clinic, our doctors will be happy to address all your queries regarding contraception.