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Types of Birth Control Pills & Their Hormone Doses

Birth control pills are easy to use, effective and generally well tolerated. Finding the right pill for your body can be a challenge. Different brands of pills have different hormone doses, and a few even use different types of hormones. One pill may cause unpleasant side effects for you, while another works quite well. Do your research if you are planning to start taking oral contraceptives or are ready to change to a different pill.

The Mini-Pill

The mini-pill is a progesterone-only birth control pill. Ideal for breastfeeding mothers and women who do not tolerate estrogen well, the mini-pill is slightly less effective than combination birth control pills. The hormone dose in this pill is lower than any other pill. While irregular bleeding is common with the progesterone-only mini-pill, it is a better choice for older women, smokers or those at high risk of blood clots or strokes.

Monophasic Pills

Monophasic combination birth control pills contain the same dose of estrogen and progesterone throughout the cycle. Today, most monophasic pills use a low dose of both estrogen and progesterone or drospirenone. These pills are becoming more popular as women opt for continuous pill usage. Taking a monophasic pill continually allows women to skip the spacer pills and avoid menstrual bleeding. A monophasic pill with less than 50mg of ethinyl estradiol is considered a low-dose pill.

Multiphasic Pills

A multiphasic combination birth control pill uses a varying dose of hormones to represent the natural menstrual cycle more accurately. Breakthrough bleeding may be reduced on a multiphasic pill, even a low dose pill. Progesterone levels gradually increase in three steps on a multiphasic pill. Both low dose and standard combination birth control pills are available in this formulation. Low dose pills typically have between 20 and 25mg of ethinyl estradiol, while higher dose pills contain substantially more.

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