How to choose the best birth control pill for you

There are multiple options, decide on the right one for you

There are many contraception types available these days, but it is hard to know which one is best suited for you. They contain different hormones or none at all and have different effects on our bodies. We are all unique, and what might work for one woman might not work for another. Contraception is not one size fits all, and knowing what you are putting into your body is paramount. 

The choices are endless, and deciding which contraception is the right fit for your body is a whole new challenge. You will need to get personal with you and your family’s medical history to determine which type is best for your body. There are some contraindications for each contraception type, which could mean you might not be allowed to take them as their risks outweigh the benefits. 

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In this article, I am going to discuss specifically birth control pills (combined or mini pill), but there are actually over nine types of contraception:

  • IUD (intra-uterine device/ copper coil)
  • IUS (intrauterine system/ hormone coil)
  • Combined pill 
  • Progesterone only pill
  • Patch
  • Vaginal ring
  • Injections 
  • Diaphragm/Cap
  • Condoms 

A study conducted in April 2020 found that “more than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method, and 60% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method.”

 

Birth control pills 

First, let me start by explaining what birth control pills do to our bodies and how they prevent pregnancy. There are two birth control pills: the combined pill and the mini pill. 

  • Combined pill - Contains estrogen and progestin
  • Progestin-only pill (also known as the mini-pill) - Only contains progestin

 

Combined pill 

The combined pill works in 3 ways. 

  1. It prevents ovulation from occurring (so no egg will be released from your ovaries)
  2. The pill thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for the sperm to enter 
  3. Thins the endometrial lining of the uterus, making it harder for an egg to implant 

The combined pill comes with active and inactive pills. The active pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, which the inactive pills do not. When taking the inactive pills, you’ll notice bleeding, just like a period but maybe lighter. This is called a withdrawal bleed and is nothing to be concerned about. The combined pill has a 99% efficacy rate if taken correctly. 

 

Can I take the combined pill?

There are some scenarios where the combined pill will not be prescribed to you. This might affect you if you are or experience any of the following:

  • Migraine with aura 
  • History of stroke or ischaemic heart disease
  • Breastfeeding and less than six weeks since the delivery of the child 
  • More than 35 years old and smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day 
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Current breast cancer
  • History of thromboembolic disease or thrombogenic mutation
  • Will be immobile after a surgery
  • Take certain drugs like anti-epileptic medications
  • Have a BMI>35
  • Have liver or gallbladder disease

Your prescribing doctor will ask you these questions to ensure the combined pill is suitable for you. 

 

Combined pill side effects

As with any medication, it comes with side effects. The known and researched side effects include:

  • Weight gain
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Light spotting

 

Mini-pill 

The mini-pill works in a similar way to the combined pill. 

  1. It thickens the cervical mucus, making it harder for the sperm to enter 
  2. Thins the endometrial lining of the uterus, making it harder for an egg to implant 

The only difference is that the mini-pill does not stop ovulation from taking place. However, this does not reduce its effectiveness as a contraception method. It is also 99% effective, just like the combined pill.

Unlike the combined pill; all the pills are active pills. 

 

Can I take the mini-pill?

The mini-pill is not recommended if you have:

  • Have breast cancer
  • Have abnormal vaginal bleeding 
  • Take certain drugs like anti-epileptic medications

 

Mini-pill side effects

The mini-pill has more side effects compared to the combined pill. It can cause:

  • Tender breasts
  • Headaches
  • Acne 
  • Fatigue
  • Light spotting
  • Lack of periods 
  • Weight gain
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Decreased sexual drive

Both the combined and mini-pill need to be taken each day. This is another factor to consider when choosing a contraceptive option. Are you good at remembering to take pills? This is especially important for the mini-pill as they have to be taken every day at the same time. The combined pill needs to be taken once a day, but it does not have to be at the same time. If you miss a pill or delay taking them, they can reduce their effectiveness as contraception. 

Multiple brands produce combined and mini-pill. At Medzino, we provide a wide variety of brands of contraception. Have a look at our range here. To get a prescription, simply fill out an online consultation, and your doctor will decide if the medication is suitable for you. 

I know the world of contraception involves navigating a whole new set of hurdles. It can be confusing and challenging to decide on what is right for you. In the end, you do not want something less than perfect for your body. Check out this contraception quiz; it might help you narrow down your options and give you a better idea of what might be for you. 

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