If you have to take birth control pills, what would be the best ones to take? Check out the comparison of hormone levels and side effects of various birth control pills.
Recently some of you asked me about birth control pills: “If you have to take birth control pills, what would be the best ones to take, i.e., which birth control pill has the least side effects?”
First, I think this is a conversation you ought to have with your healthcare provider since he or she would have the most intimate knowledge regarding your health condition and could recommend the best option for you.
That being said, I think it would be helpful to compare the hormone levels in various birth control pills, so you can be educated and ask the right questions when you discuss your options with your doctor.
Comparison of Hormone Levels in Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are prescription-based synthetic hormones. Most pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. Some also contain 7 days of inactive spacer tablets.
Oral contraceptives work by preventing ovulation, fertilization or implantation of an egg. The hormones in the pill also prevent sperm from entering the uterus by thickening cervical mucus.
The pills can be triphasic, biphasic or monophasic, which varies the dosage of hormones taken throughout the month.
Combination pills contain synthetic versions of both progesterone and estrogen. These are the most commonly prescribed type of oral contraceptives.
The level of synthetic estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) contained in various combination pills vary, ranging from 0.02 mg to 0.05 mg.
Combination birth control pills that contain less than 0.05 mg of ethinyl estradiol are known as low-dose pills. Women who are sensitive to hormones may benefit from taking a lower dose pill.
However, low-dose pills may result in more breakthrough bleeding — bleeding or spotting between periods — than do higher dose pills.
The side effects of combination pills include increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke, irregular bleeding, bloating, breast tenderness, nausea and headache.
Below is the level of ethinyl estradiol contained in various combination pills (from the lowest to the highest):
- Lo Loestrin Fe
- Loestrin Fe 1/20
- Loestrin 24 Fe
- Loestrin 1/20
- Generess Fe
- Femcon Fe
- Loestrin Fe 1.5/30
- Loestrin 1.5/30
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo
- Estrostep Fe
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen
- Ortho-Novum 1/35
- Ortho-Novum 10/11
- Ortho-Novum 7/7/7
- Ovcon 35
- Orthon-Novum 1/50
Progestin is the name given to synthetic progesterone. Progestin-only pills, also referred to as “mini-pills,” come only in 28-day packs.
Progestin-only pills typically have fewer side effects and are safer for women who are breast-feeding, overweight, smokers or have a history of blood clots.
However, you need to be more diligent when taking the mini-pills. It is very important to take this type of birth control pills at the same time every day.
If you miss a dose by more than three hours, take it as soon as you remember and use another form of birth control for at least 48 hours following your missed dosed.
If you miss a dose by an entire day, you must use another form of birth control for the rest of that month.
Common side effects of progestin-only pills include irregular menstrual bleeding, ovarian cysts, decreased libido, headache, breast tenderness, acne, weight gain, depression and hirsutism.
It has also a slightly increased risk that if pregnancy occurs it will be ectopic — the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.
The most popular brand names of progestin-only pills are Cerazette, Ovrette, Ortho-Micronor, Errin, Camilla and Jolivette.
As mentioned above, birth control pills have varying side effects, from mild to serious.
As a matter of fact, the FDA has been investigating the safety of various birth control pills. And there have been several lawsuits involving various drug companies, for example, Bayer for its popular Yaz pills. You can learn more by clicking here.
Choosing to be on birth control pills is an important decision concerning your health. So don’t take it lightly. And if you have to do so for one reason or another, consider taking it short-term instead of long-term.
And check out other birth control options without pills.
I hope you find this article helpful. Please share your experience so we can all learn from one another. Thank you.