For those who want to know more about one of the most taboo topics out there for women, it’s none other than birth control pills. So, let’s break down the different types of birth control pills out there and demystify the entire process. There are quite a few types of birth control pills and each has a different system of administration.
Different Types of Birth Control Pills
#1 Combination Pills
Birth control pills come with two hormones namely progestin and estrogen and are referred to as combination pills. These are the most common kind of birth control pills. Most of these pill types come in either 21 or 28-day packs. As long as one pill is taken per day, one is protected from pregnancy. The pill does not have to be taken at just the same time, but carrying this out keeps you in the regimen of remembering to take the medication. Alarms, reminders or birth control apps can help in reminding you to take the pill.
Taking a single pill for a period of 4 weeks/28 days, and then start a new pack on the 29th Day. The last pills in the 28-day combination medicines do not have hormones. The number of days taken for hormone-free pills is different for various brands. Taking hormone-free pills for 7 day periods are common, but sometimes, even less will be taken. The pills are known as reminder or placebo pills.They can remind one of taking the pill each day and starting the next pack within time. If these are not taken, you will be protected from pregnancy. Remember these reminder pills are to be taken when you get your period. They are rich in iron or other supplementation that enables one to stay healthy.
Take a single pill every day for 21 days successively. Don’t take any pills for the fourth week, if you are following a 21-day schedule. In the fourth week, you will get your periods, while you are not taking any pills. It is important to take pills in a 21-day pack, as there are no hormone-free, supplement reminder pills. Hormone pills prevent pregnancy even if one has sex during the weekend when no pills are being taken. The next pack has to be started after not taking the pill for 7 days. Use a reminder or an alarm to stay on track.
Some combination pills offer 12 weeks worth of hormone pills in a row, by about one week’s worth of reminder pills. This ensures that those on the pill will have their period once in every three months. The hormones will prevent pregnancy even if there is intercourse during the week the reminder pill is taken. Use different pill brands instead of reminder pills to skip the period too.
#2 Progestin Pills (Mini-Pills)
These pills have one kind of hormone called progestin. These pills lack estrogen. These progestin-only pills need to be taken within the same 3 hours each day to prevent unwanted pregnancies. For instance, if one takes the progestin-only pill at 12 noon, taking it after 3 pm the next day places you at a risk for getting pregnant. Birth control apps, alarms, and reminders can help in taking pills on time. Progestin-only pills come in 4 week/28-day packs. These pills have hormones. The user has to take the pill in the progestin-only pack to be protected from pregnancy. There is consequently no hormone-free week. The period may be prevalent during the 4th week. The bleeding could also be had on and off across the month or getting no periods at all.
Using the Pill To Stop The Period
Skipping the period with the pill is extremely easy. Basically, the users need to make sure they take an active pill with hormones each day. This can be done in 2 ways:
A brand of pills with 3 months of active pills in succession can be taken, so the period is prevalent only 4 times in a year. The placebo pill can be skipped in the pack, and you can jump right on to the next pack all of the time, or when you have some special event planned.
Women may experience spotting or bleeding to some extent while using the pill. It is totally normal and if the hormone-free week is skipped every month, the effect dissipates after a period of 6 months. Nothing is harmful about taking the pill to skip the period. It comes really handy when you have a special occasion planned.
What To Do If a Pill Is Missed?
The pill works best if taken at the same time each day, but everyone on the pill does not remember to take it all the time. Knowing what to do in case you miss your pills is important. Figure out what to do if the pill is missed. Be clear about the name on the pill pack and keep a regular supply of the same. Another safe bet is to use a condom. If you forget to take the pill, choose morning after or emergency contraceptives. Take birth control pills any day of the month. When you take the pill can impact how to use backup birth control methods like condoms for the first week.
How to Take the Combination Pills?
If one starts taking combination pills in a 5-day week, when the period starts, one is protected from pregnancy immediately.
If your take combination pills, you are protected from pregnancy after a week of taking the pill. Use methods like female/male condoms if you have vaginal sex during the first week on the pill.
How to Take Mini-Pills?
Use progestin-only pills at just about any time and safeguard yourself from pregnancy after a period of 48 hours. Use birth control methods like condoms if vaginal sex is experienced during the first 48 hours. Take progestin-only pills at the same time each day. If this is taken more than three hours past the usual time, back a backup method for the next 2 days.
Commencing With the Pill Post Pregnancy
Getting pregnant after giving birth can be detrimental for the health of some women. Talk to your nurse or doctor about how to commence birth control as soon as possible. Start taking progestin only pills right after an abortion, childbirth or miscarriage. Take the combination pill right after miscarriage or abortions. In general, the combination pill can be taken 3 weeks after giving birth. But wait for at least 3 weeks, regardless of whether you are breast-feeding or not.
If you decide you want to be pregnant, you need to stop taking the pill. It is possible to get pregnant right after stopping. Taking the pill can also cause side-effects so, remember that most of these disappear in 2-3 months.
Some of the side effects associated with pills include sore breasts, spotting, headaches or nausea right after starting the pill. Birth control side effects clear up post a few months. In case the side effects are way too much, your healthcare provider may be able to suggest another brand or method of birth control. Some people can opt for different types of pills before finding the right one.
Please note that taking the pill changes the period. It might become lighter or stop coming altogether. This is more so if the pill is constantly been taken to skip the periods. While the chance of pregnancy is low, if pills are taken each date, the pregnancy test can be taken when you miss your periods, just to be safe.
Is the Pill Safe?
Chances are birth control pills can be perfectly safe for you. Most women use it without absolutely any problem. It has been around for more than fifty years and so many women have used it. But like with any other medication, the pill does not work for everyone. If you are over the age of 35 and a frequent smoker, you should not take the pill or any other birth control method containing estrogen. Progestin-only pills should be used by women who smoke.
Avoid combination pills if any of these health problems are there namely blood clots, breast cancer, heart attack, stroke, angina, migraine headaches with aura, uncontrolled BP and advanced diabetes/liver disease. Check with your medical practitioner about heart problems and risks. Decide which pills work out best for you.
While birth control pills are safe, using combination pills on a regular basis can raise the risk of health problems somewhat. Complications are not common but can be serious. These include heart attack, live tumors, blood clots and even stroke. Progestin-only pills don’t carry that many risks. But always be sure to check with your doctor before taking a birth control pill, especially if you are taking medications or have health issues.
Also, remember that pills do not always guarantee you won’t get pregnant. But on the positive side, taking pills does not raise chances of birth defects.
Do, however, see the doctor if you experience any side effects after taking the pill such as acute headaches, breathlessness, soreness in the leg, nausea, jaw pain, sweating, severe pain in the stomach or belly, headaches and an aura or yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Also bear in mind that if you are nursing, wait till three weeks after childbirth to start using combination pills. Breast milk contains traces of pill hormones, but these may not harm your child.
Choosing the Right Pill
Skipping periods with a pill is super easy. Take an active pill with hormones each day. You can either use a pill brand with 3 months of active pills in a row so periods can be achieved 4 times in a year. Skip the placebo pills in the pack and jump to the next one, if you want to prepare for a special event and don’t want your period at that time.
Bleeding and spotting may also result when you skip the period. It’s completely normal and if hormone-free weeks are skipped each month, it should disappear after 6 months. Using the pill to skip the period is perfectly normal. The pill works best if it is taken the same time each day. Everyone forgets to take the pill sometimes. Knowing what to do when you miss a pill is important too.
Specifically, there are 3 different ways to start taking birth control pills. The first way is to start on the first day of the period. Continue to take the pill each day at the same time. Using this method, you don’t need to use a backup method. Preventing pregnancy is easy using this method.
Another way to take it is to take the first pill in a quick start. Continue to take that pill each day at the same time. Backup protection methods like condoms can be used in conjunction.
Yet another way is to take the first pill on the first Sunday following the commencement of the period. If the period commences on Sunday, start your pill on that day. Continue to take each pill at the same time.
Remember that the pill can also cause you to skip the period completely. Pills can make the flow lighter so even small amounts of bleeding are perfectly normal. If the period is missed and there are no signs of pregnancy, the next set of pills can be continued with. If another period is missed next month, it is important to continue pills and get the pregnancy test done. Pills do not cause harm during early stages of pregnancy.
However, if you miss more than a single pill, using backup methods or emergency contraception might work.
Use birth control pills to control hormone levels and prevent an undesirable pregnancy. Combination birth control pills stop the egg or ovum from releasing in the ovary and thickens the cervical mucus so the sperm does not enter. It also thins the endometrial lining to keep sperms from fertilizing the egg. In contact, the mini-pill causes the walls of the uterus to become thin and thickens cervical mucus to prevent birth from taking place.
Talk to your doctor before taking the pill. Combination pills, for example, come in two types namely monophasic and multiphasic pills. Monophasic birth control pills contain equal amounts of estrogen and progestin. Multiphasic pills, in contract, vary the hormones in specific stages. These pills also come in the form of low dosage meds for birth control. Such pills have less than 20mcg of ethinyl estradiol. This is in contrast to normal birth control pills which contain 50 mcg or less. Women who are sensitive to hormonal substances and react adversely to these may prefer a low dose pill. Low dose pills can cause discharge of blood in between periods, though
Combination pills offer a lot of benefits but come with their own pitfalls. While considering the right kind of pill, take the benefits into account. Firstly, it offers 99% protection against pregnancy. Secondly, it is also well known for reducing menstrual cramping, protecting against pelvic inflammatory diseases and reducing chances of heavy menses or ovarian and endometrial cancers. But 8 in 100 women may become pregnant during the first year of this pill on account of incorrect usage.
Risks associated with combination pills include blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, stroke, breast tenderness, liver damage, weight gain, depression, headache, irregular bleeding and even increased risk of jaundice. It also offers no protection against STI or HIV.
Mini-pills, on the other hand, is easy to take even if you suffer from medical conditions like blood clots, high BP, migraines or heart disease. It can be used at the time of breastfeeding and reduces menstruation cramping. It also makes periods lighter and protects against pelvic inflammatory disease. However, the risks of the mini-pill are also there. There’s nausea, vomiting, ovarian cysts, ectopic pregnancy, no protection against STI or bleeding between periods. Then, there’s weight gain, increase in acne, increased breast tenderness and even less efficacy as compared to combination pills.
Consider your reproductive system and menstruation patterns before going for a pill. Remember that continuous dose or extended cycle pills lower the number of menstrual cycles each year. Women may have only 4 periods a year or even none at all. But conventional pills don’t do that — you still have a period every month in the case of these.
Medications that can come in the way of birth control pill impact include antibiotics, seizure medicines, drugs for treating HIV, anti TB drugs and even herbs like St. John’s Wort.
Inform your doctor about medications, supplements, and other medical conditions before being prescribed a birth control pill. There are thyroid hormone drugs, benzodiazepines like diazepam, prednisone drugs, beta blockers, anticoagulants or blood thinners, insulin and even tricyclic antidepressants that should not be taken with birth control pills.
While using birth control pills, keep your medical history in mind and consider the doctor’s advice carefully before opting for this method to stop an unwanted pregnancy.