There's much to like about birth control pills when it comes to choosing a contraceptive: they're convenient to take and one of the most effective options for preventing pregnancy when used correctly.
While all birth control pills use hormones to restrict the ability to become pregnant, they aren't all the same. There are many different kinds of birth control pills out there, and some might be better suited to your situation than others.
We'll go over all the considerations you might want to consider when choosing a pill to find the perfect option for you.
While some people can tolerate just about any birth control pill well, others may have special considerations to keep in mind when choosing a pill. Things like side effects, general health, and convenience can all impact your choice of oral contraceptive.
Remember that if your first choice of pill isn't working for you for any reason, you can always switch to one of the many different options or stop this method of birth control and switch to another one altogether.
Whether you're just looking into starting the pill for the first time or you're considering switching to a different pill, we'll help you understand the different options, factors to consider, and questions to ask your doctor if you're not sure what's best for you.
The best birth control for you will largely depend on a range of personal factors that will help you narrow down the many possible options. Here are the most important personal considerations to consider when deciding which birth control pill to try.
Preventing pregnancy is the most common reason for taking birth control, but it isn't the only one. Since oral contraceptives contain hormones, they can be used to regulate a range of other hormone-related conditions. Other reasons for taking birth control include:
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) — Many women experience some degree of irritability around each period, but between five and ten percent of women experience PMDD, a more intense response to the hormonal fluctuations of their regular cycles. Doctors may prescribe taking the pill continuously, without beaks between active pills, to avoid the hormonal changes contributing to symptoms.
Period pain – For some, period cramps can be more than a minor inconvenience. For those who suffer from intense cramps, the pill may help the body release less of the chemical that causes these painful muscle contractions.
Regulating heavy or painful periods – The pill can be used to make periods occur at regular monthly intervals and to reduce heavy flow.
Migraine headaches – For some migraine sufferers, fluctuations in the female sex hormones that the pill mimics contribute to more painful headaches. The pill can regulate these hormones, reducing the severity of migraine headaches.
Acne – Acne can be caused by high levels of androgens which lead to excess oil production. The hormones in the pill can reduce the amount of androgens in the system, improving acne.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Birth control pills are sometimes prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of PCOS, which are the result of excess androgens.
Endometriosis – The pain associated with endometriosis can be alleviated with the birth control pill.
While the relief of symptoms for any of these conditions might result from taking any birth control pill, some pills are indicated specifically for one or more of these conditions. Your doctor can help you identify if there is a pill that is more frequently prescribed for your symptoms.
The pill can generally be taken by women who have started menstruating until menopause. However, oral contraceptives are not usually recommended for women over the age of 35 who smoke. Smoking while taking oral contraceptives over this age increases the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes.
If you quit smoking, you may be able to resume the pill. Just make sure to discuss this option with your doctor first.
Since the pill isn't a barrier method of birth control, it doesn't protect against the transmission of STDs. This shouldn't be an issue for you if you are in a monogamous relationship or are aware of your partners' sexual health, but if you're concerned about the possibility of getting or passing STDs to others, you may want to consider using condoms in addition to or instead of the pill.
Some health conditions may result in your doctor concluding that the pill isn't right for you. These include:
You may be particularly sensitive to higher hormone levels, which can result in unpleasant side effects such as sore breasts, migraines, or nausea. If you do experience these side effects, there are birth control pills with lower hormone levels that may not cause the same side effects.
Oral contraceptives are small pills that need to be taken once a day. Progestin-only pills need to be taken at the same time each day. For some, this is very convenient. Taking the pill can be associated with an activity that happens simultaneously every day, such as brushing your teeth.
However, some women find it challenging to remember to take it at the exact same time. This can lead to an increased chance of unwanted pregnancy. If you prefer a birth control method that you don't have to think about as often, other options like an IUD or the birth control patch may be more convenient.
Several different categories of birth control pills exist, each with its own benefits. Within each category, there are many brand name options and generic options.
The most common type of birth control pill is the combination pill. These pills are given their name because of the combination of female sex hormones they contain: one estrogen hormone and one progestin hormone.
These hormones work together to prevent ovulation and cause changes to the cervix and uterine lining that further reduce the chance of pregnancy.
Birth control pills generally come in packs of either 21 or 28 pills. The 28 pill packs contain 21 active pills and seven placebo pills that make it easier to stay in the habit of taking it and to track when it's time to open a new pack.
Monophasic pill packs contain 21 active pills with identical levels of estrogen and progestin in each pill. This means that the same hormonal dose is taken every day until the 7 placebo days when a period occurs. Most pills are monophasic.
Multiphasic birth control pills contain multiple doses of hormones within each pill pack. Biphasic pills usually contain a lower dose for the first half of the cycle and a higher dose for the second half of the cycle. Triphasic pills are similarly divided into three doses, increasing each week.
Multiphasic pills were developed to reduce the total amount of hormones taken in a month, potentially reducing side effects in those who experience them. However, unlike monophasic pills, you have to ensure you're taking them in the correct order to ensure efficacy.
Continuous and extended cycle pills are meant to be taken without the seven-day break typical of most birth control pills. Without the hormone-free break, a period won't occur. This can be very convenient for those wanting to avoid having a period.
Some continuous cycle pills come in packs of 84 active pills with seven placebo pills, resulting in four periods per year. These are also referred to as 3-month birth control pills. Other options include packs with 24 active pills and only four placebo pills for a shorter period.
It is generally safe to take regular monophasic pills continuously, without a break.
Progestin-only pills do not contain any estrogen hormones at all and sometimes contain lower levels of progestin than combination pills. This makes them a good option for people who have contraindications preventing them from being able to take estrogen. However, it's worth noting that taking these pills at the exact same time each day is important to prevent pregnancy. This type of pill can also be taken during lactation since combination pills may decrease the supply of breast milk.
All of the different kinds of birth control pills discussed above, except for progestin-only pills, work primarily by suppressing ovulation. Since the ovaries do not release an egg, pregnancy can't take place.
They also affect the thickness of the cervix and uterine linings, making it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg if ovulation does occur and creating a more difficult environment for a fertilized egg to implant into the uterine lining.
Progestin-only pills may also prevent ovulation, but they don't do this consistently in every woman. Some women continue to ovulate on progestin-only pills, so the primary mechanism by which they work is by changing the cervix and uterine linings.
When taken exactly as indicated, birth control pills are 99% effective. This means that if 100 women of childbearing age take the pill as indicated, one will become pregnant per year.
In practice, this number may be a bit lower since it relies on your taking the pill at the same time every day consistently. Still, birth control pills are among the most effective methods of contraception available.
If oral contraceptives aren't right for you, there are plenty of other options to explore, including non-hormonal birth control. These include:
If you're thinking about taking the pill, here are some things to discuss with your doctor to make sure they're right for you:
It's normal to have plenty of questions when deciding which birth control method is right for you. Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have when exploring birth control.
How to take Lolo birth control?
You can take your Lolo birth control as soon as you receive your first pack. Remember to use a backup contraceptive (such as condoms) during intercourse for the first two weeks after starting the pill. Alternatively, your healthcare practitioner may recommend that you wait to begin your birth control until the first day of your period.
There is no right or wrong answer as long as you and your practitioner can agree on the best way for you.
You should take your Lolo birth control by taking one pill at the same time each day in the order that they come in your blister pack. It doesn’t matter what time of day you take your birth control as long as you ensure it is a time that will work for you every day.
You can help yourself remember to take birth control by making it a part of another routine, such as brushing your teeth in the morning or before you go to bed. Many patients also find it helpful to set up an alarm on their phone as a reminder.
What birth control pill is best for me?
The best birth control for you is the one which best suits your unique lifestyle and needs! There are many things to consider when choosing which birth control will best suit your lifestyle, such as any health conditions you have or what your day-to-day routine looks like.
For instance, if you get migraines with aura, your healthcare practitioner will likely recommend a progestin-only pill, which does not contain estrogen. Or, if you do not want to have a period at all, you may prefer to use a continuous or extended cycle pill.
It may take trial and error to figure out which birth control pill is best for you; you might get side effects from your first prescription and want to try a different medication. Or, you might have difficulty remembering to take your pill at the same time every day and choose another birth control method instead. The ring and the patch are alternatives to the pill that don’t require a visit to a doctor’s office and don’t need to be taken daily.
What is the best birth control pill?
There is no one best birth control pill, as all birth control pills are highly effective at preventing pregnancy when taken as directed. You should choose the pill that will fit your lifestyle best because the better you take it, the better the pill will work.
How to choose the right birth control pill?
Your healthcare practitioner can help you choose the proper birth control. When you get a birth control prescription with Felix, your healthcare practitioner will evaluate your responses to questions about lifestyle, health, and medical history.
At the end of the visit, Your practitioner will present you with various options for birth control. If you are unsure, let your Felix healthcare practitioner decide for you. If you have questions about your birth control prescription, you can use the text boxes to ask questions or express concerns during the online assessment.
This will ensure your Felix healthcare practitioner reaches out to you before approving your prescription to answer your questions and discuss your options.
Is Lolo birth control fffective?
Lolo is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken as directed, which means that less than one out of 100 people who take Lolo for a year will get pregnant. However, we know that no one is perfect, and you may forget to take your pill at the same time every day.
With typical use, Lolo is approximately 91% effective. Lolo can also be taken to effectively manage other symptoms associated with your periods, like acne, PMS, and cramps.
How do I know which birth control pill is best for me?
Talking to a healthcare practitioner will help you determine which pill is right for you. If you have any concerns or risk factors, they can talk you through options of pills that may work for you, or other birth control methods you may want to use instead.
Which birth control method is used the most?
In Canada, the most common birth control method is condoms (54%) followed by the birth control pill (44%).
Which is the safest birth control?
This depends on what you are concerned about. For example, condoms are slightly less effective than hormonal birth control methods such as the pill, IUDs, and contraceptive implants.
However, condoms are safer if you are concerned about STDs, as these other methods do not provide protection from STDs.
Get started with Felix today to learn about the best birth control options for you.
The Felix Health Guide is educational content providing clinically-accurate, balanced information on different ailments and treatments. Some ailments, medications, and treatments mentioned in the content may not be offered by Felix.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.