The contraceptive pill has been around since 1960 and was the first hormonal birth control available. The birth control pill has come a long way since then, with more formulations becoming available all the time. Every day we see advertisements on television and in magazines touting different birth control pill options, but how do you know what's right for you? Only your doctor can help you make the final decision, but it's important to be informed about your options.
First, some basics about the contraceptive pill. The two basic types are combination pills, which use estrogen and progestin, and progestin-only pills. Combination pills generally work by inhibiting ovulation. If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant. They also thicken cervical mucus to keep sperm from fertilizing an egg, if one is released. Progestin-only pills usually work by only thickening the cervical mucus. Most progestin-only pills do not prevent ovulation.
Combination pills are the most popularly prescribed birth control pills. While the combination birth control pill should be taken at approximately the same time every day, it is more forgiving than the progestin-only birth control pill. With progestin-only pills, you must take your pill within the same 3 hour period every day or you risk becoming pregnant. However, with both pills, the more stringent you are about taking them, the more effective their results.
Combination pills have the most variety of the two basic types of birth control pill options. A combination pill may be right for you if are under 35, are a non-smoker, have no history of heart disease or high blood pressure, amongst other criteria your doctor will discuss with you. Once you and you're doctor have decided the combination birth control pill is right for you, then you can decide which type.
If acne is or has been a problem for you, there are several higher estrogen pills that may be right for you, including Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, Mircette and Yasmin. If depression or moodiness are issues, you might choose a lower progestin pill such as Ortho Evra, Ovcon 35, Modicon, Alesse or Trivora. For severe menstrual cramps, you could try a higher progestin pill such as Yasmin, Desogen, Loestrin 1.5/30 or Orth-Cept. Whichever combination birth control pill you choose, most are 99.9% effective when used perfectly. Typical use results in 95% effectiveness.
For those who do not want to take or should not take a combination pill containing estrogen, there are several types of progestin-only birth control pill options. These progestin-only pills are an excellent choice for those who are sensitive to estrogen and for those who are breastfeeding, since they do not affect breast milk quantity and are safe for the infant. As noted before, the progestin-only pill must be taken within a 3 hour period each day or a backup method must be used for the next 48 hours. With perfect use, the progestin-only pill is 99.5% effective. With typical use, it is 95% effective.
Gone are the days where every woman is given the same pill. If you tried the pill years ago but gave up due to side effects, don't be afraid to try a new pill. Whatever your needs, there's a birth control pill made just for you.