Advertising on television, in magazines and in your doctor’s office claims nearly every birth control pill is the best. In truth, the best birth control pill is the one with the fewest negative side effects when you are using it. From an effectiveness perspective, combination pills are much the same, but hormone dosages and even the types of hormones can vary dramatically changing how you feel on the pill. Go in armed with information and, with help from your doctor, you can choose the best birth control pill for your body and needs.
Combination Birth Control Pills
Most women take a combination birth control pill in either a monophasic or multiphasic dosing. A monophasic pill uses one hormone dose throughout the cycle, while a multiphasic pill may have two or three different hormone doses through the cycle. Typically, these pills use both estrogen and progesterone to prevent pregnancy. Lower dose pills have 30mcg or less of ethinyl estradiol and can be a lower risk choice with fewer side effects. A low-dose combination birth control pill is the best choice for most women, offering regular menstrual cycles, lighter periods and reliable birth control. You may need to consider a lower or higher dose pill to find the best birth control pill for your needs if side effects are a problem. Smokers or those at high risk of blood clots and strokes should not take a combination pill.
Continuous Birth Control Pills
Continuous birth control pills do not include the four to seven days of spacers or placebo pills included in a typical combination birth control pill pack. Contraceptive pills designed for continuous use are a monophasic combination pill using both estrogen and progesterone. These pills offer women the contraceptive benefits of birth control pills without periods. For women with painful periods or a busy lifestyle, these can be the best choice for birth control. There may be more breakthrough bleeding when taking pills continuously.
The progesterone only pill or the mini-pill is slightly less reliable than the combination pill. It is important that the mini-pill be taken at the same time each day, and that you use a back-up birth control method if you miss a pill. Breakthrough bleeding and irregular periods are more common; however, there is no risk of blood clot or stroke with the progesterone-only pill. This pill is the best choice for smokers, those at risk of blood clots or breastfeeding mothers. It is typically not the best birth control pill for those who can take an estrogen and progesterone combination pill.