Weighing The Pros And Cons Of Birth Control Pill Use
Birth control pills have some risks including a small increased risk of breast cancer . However, in addition to preventing pregnancy, birth control pills decrease the risk of uterine and ovarian cancers .
Before making any decisions about birth control pills , talk with your health care provider about the benefits and risks.
Who Shouldn’t Use Progestin
Progestin-only contraception may not be appropriate for you if:
- You are at high risk for or have had breast cancer: While the research on this is not definitive, some studies have shown an association with progestin-only birth control and breast cancer.
- You have liver disease: Some evidence has shown that progestin can potentially damage the liver.
- You take anti-seizure medications: Some anti-seizure medications break down hormones in your body and may reduce the effectiveness of a progestin-only pill.
- You have had bariatric surgery: Bariatric surgery may affect the way your body absorbs these medications and may make them less effective.
- You have trouble remembering to take medications at the right time: While combination birth control pills don’t have to be taken at the exact same time every day, the minipill does. Although there are other options such as an intrauterine device that doesn’t require you to take any pills.
How Much Estrogen And Progesterone Is In Birth Control Pills
Estrogen is in most birth control pills, and its linked to an increased risk of health problems, such as blood clots and stroke. The exception is the minipill. Its available in only one dose that contains 35 mcg of progestin. Birth control pills that arent low dose may contain up to 50 or so mcg of estrogen.
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What Are The Best Birth Control Options That Arent Hormonal
I need a contraceptive that isnt hormonal. Im allergic to condoms. Ive heard a copper IUD can be painful or dangerous. What are my options?
If hormones arent your thing, you still have a few birth control options. But first, when you say youre allergic to condoms, are you sure youre not just allergic to latex? There are condoms made from a few different materials out there, like polyurethane and polyisoprene. If you havent tried those yet, its worth finding out if they work for you because condoms are not only a great non-hormonal birth control option, but they also help protect you from STDs.
The copper IUD is the most effective and convenient of the non-hormonal options. Like all birth control methods, it has some risks, but overall its really safe. In terms of pain, you may have some pain when you get it put in, but that goes away pretty quickly. Some people have heavier periods or worse period cramps with the copper IUD, but that also tends to taper off over time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about the copper IUD to find out if its right for you.
The diaphragm, the cervical cap, and the sponge are also solid non-hormonal options, but theyre a little more high maintenance than other methods. They require that you take care of your birth control in the time right before you have sex, which isnt for everyone.
Does The Pill Protect Against Stds
Nope. The pill is really good at preventing pregnancy, but it wont protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex really lowers your chances of getting or spreading STDs. Condoms also protect against pregnancy so using condoms + birth control pills together gives protection from STDs AND awesome pregnancy-preventing power.
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Preventing Stds Along With Pregnancy
When it comes to your sexual health, contraception is one very important consideration, but its also important to think about STDs. Most birth control methods dont do anything to prevent the spread of infections. Condoms are the only method that prevents both pregnancy and STDs. Other types of birth control do prevent pregnancy, but you can still get STDs while using them.
You cant necessarily rely on asking your partners about their symptoms. Even if they answer honestly, many STDs cause no symptoms in a large proportion of people with the infection. This is why its important to get regular testing to ensure that you dont have any undetected STDs.
In order to get the testing that you need, one option is to visit your regular doctor or an STD clinic. For more privacy and convenience, some people prefer to order a home test kit. You take samples yourself at home, and then mail these to a medical laboratory, where theyll be tested. Youll then get your results online within a few days. For many people, this option removes some of the common barriers that may cause them to avoid STD testing, allowing them to protect their sexual health.
What Is The Minipill
The minipill is a type of oral contraceptive that contains pills that only have progestin.
None of the pills in the pack have any estrogen. The dose of progestin varies and is dependent on the formulation used in the birth control pill.
A minipill package consists of 28 pills, all of which contain the hormone progestin. It doesnt contain any placebo pills.
To maximize the minipills effectiveness, youll need to take the pill at the same time every day.
If you miss a dose even by as little as 3 hours youll need to use a backup method of birth control for at least 2 days to be on the safe side.
Theres a new FDA-approved progestin-only pill called Slynd. It can be taken within a 24-hour period and still not be considered a missed dose, unlike the current progestin-only pill.
Because this pill is so new, there may currently be limited information and access. To learn more about Slynd, talk to your doctor.
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What Other Information Should I Know
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Before you have any laboratory tests, tell the laboratory personnel that you take progestin-only oral contraceptives, as this medication may interfere with some laboratory tests.
Rarely, women can become pregnant even if they are taking oral contraceptives. You should get a pregnancy test if it has been more than 45 days since your last period or if your period is late and you missed one or more doses or took them late and had sex without a backup method of birth control.
If you want to become pregnant, stop taking progestin-only contraceptives. Progestin-only contraceptives should not delay your ability to get pregnant.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Starting The Combined Pill
You can normally start taking the pill at any point in your menstrual cycle. There is special guidance if you have just had a baby, abortion or miscarriage. The guidance may also be different if you have a short menstrual cycle. Get advice from a doctor or nurse if you need it. You may need to use additional contraception during your 1st days on the pill this depends on when in your menstrual cycle you start taking it.
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Youre Getting Frequent Headaches
Its a known fact that people with uteruses are more likely to get headaches and migraines overall the hormonal reasons why this is arent super well understood, but fluctuations in estrogen levels are one potential reason. You might notice that you get headaches during your luteal phase, right before your period starts, when your estrogen is at its lowest during your cycle. If your estrogen is low throughout your cycle, it could lead to more headaches, but its important to check with a doctor to make sure your headaches dont have another, potentially more serious cause.
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If You’re More Than 3 Or More Than 12 Hours Late Taking The Pill
If you’re taking a 3-hour progestogen-only pill and are more than 3 hours late taking it, or you’re taking the 12-hour progestogen-only pill and are more than 12 hours late, you will not be protected against pregnancy.
What you should do:
- take a pill as soon as you remember only take 1, even if you’ve missed more than 1 pill
- take the next pill at the usual time this may mean taking 2 pills on the same day this is not harmful
- carry on taking your remaining pills each day at the usual time
- use extra contraception such as condoms for the next 2 days after you remember to take your missed pill, or do not have sex
- if you have unprotected sex from the time that you miss your pill until 2 days after you start taking it reliably again, you may need emergency contraception get advice from your contraception clinic or GP
- tell them that you’ve been taking the progestogen-only pill as this can affect which emergency contraception is best for you to take
It takes 2 days for the progestogen-only pill to thicken cervical mucus so sperm cannot get through or survive.
The Faculty of Sexual Health and Reproductive Healthcare recommends using extra contraception for 2 days after you remember to take your pill.
The patient information leaflet that comes with your pill might say to use condoms for the next 7 days after you remember to take your pill. This is because it takes 7 days for the pill to stop you ovulating.
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If You’re Under 16 Years Old
Contraception services are free and confidential, including for people under the age of 16.
If you’re under 16 and want contraception, the doctor, nurse or pharmacist will not tell your parents as long as they believe you fully understand the information you’re given, and your decisions.
Doctors and nurses work under strict guidelines when dealing with young people under 16. They’ll encourage you to consider telling your parents, but they will not make you.
The only time a professional might want to tell someone else is if they believe you’re at risk of harm, such as abuse. The risk would need to be serious, and they would usually discuss this with you first.
Page last reviewed: 2 February 2021 Next review due: 2 February 2024
Path To Improved Health
Second, like regular birth control pills, the progestin-only pill makes your body think youre pregnant and stops your ovary from releasing an egg. This doesnt happen as often as with combination birth control pills. Forty percent of women taking the progestin-only pill will continue to ovulate.
Third, the mini-pill causes changes in your uterus that make it less likely to let a pregnancy get started, even if an egg is released.
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How Do You Choose The Best Method
The best method of birth control is one that protects you every time you have sex. And with many types of birth control, that depends on how well you use it. To find a method that will work for you every time, some things to think about include:
If you are using a method now that you are not happy with, talk to your doctor about other choices.
What Are The Advantages Of Mini
- Mini-pills work better than barrier methods. Barrier methods include condoms and diaphragms.
- They may cause fewer side effects than combination birth control pills. They may reduce heavy bleeding and cramping.
- They dont contain estrogen. So you can use them if you dont want to take estrogen. They are also an option if you cant take estrogen because you have certain health problems or concerns.
- They are safe to use while breastfeeding.
- You dont have to interrupt sex to use them.
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Using Birth Control As Prescribed Is Key
Practitioners always want to prescribe whatever birth control method will lead to the highest rate of compliance, Dr. Lew says. Any medication that needs to be taken less frequently generally has higher compliance. Thats why most OB/GYNs recommend IUDs for people who dont plan to get pregnant for at least a few years. You can get an IUD in and forget about it for years and years, and itll still be working for you, Dr. Lew says. The downside is that you lose some control because you do have to get it removed by a healthcare provider, Dr. Creinin adds.
Can I Take The Pill While Breastfeeding
The combination birth control pill contains estrogen, which can decrease milk production. If you are breastfeeding, your healthcare provider may recommend taking the progestin-only pill instead. However, some women may use estrogen-containing pills once milk supply is fully established, and a womans risk of blood clots is minimized.
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The Role Of Estrogen In The Pill
Hormonal birth control may also contain a synthetic form of estrogen. Estrogens main role is to counteract side effects of progestin, explains Mitchell D. Creinin, M.D., an OB/GYN and family planning expert at UC Davis Health in Sacramento, CA. At a low dose, progestin thickens mucus but does not shut off the ovaries. Higher dosages shut off the ovaries but also shut off other hormones, including estrogen, which you need to keep your hormones balanced, Dr. Creinin explains, and prevent the side effects of low estrogen, which can include moodiness, reduced energy, trouble sleeping, and even hot flashes or decreased sex drive.
Progestins To Prevent Ovulation
Pincus asked his contacts at pharmaceutical companies to send him chemical compounds with progestogenic activity. Chang screened nearly 200 chemical compounds in animals and found the three most promising were Syntex’s norethisterone and Searle’s noretynodrel and norethandrolone.
Chemists Carl Djerassi, Luis Miramontes, and George Rosenkranz at Syntex in Mexico City had synthesized the first orally highly active progestin norethisterone in 1951. Frank B. Colton at Searle in Skokie, Illinois had synthesized the orally highly active progestins noretynodrel in 1952 and norethandrolone in 1953.
In December 1954, Rock began the first studies of the ovulation-suppressing potential of 550 mg doses of the three oral progestins for three months in fifty of his patients with infertility in Brookline, Massachusetts. Norethisterone or noretynodrel 5 mg doses and all doses of norethandrolone suppressed ovulation but caused breakthrough bleeding, but 10 mg and higher doses of norethisterone or noretynodrel suppressed ovulation without breakthrough bleeding and led to a 14% pregnancy rate in the following five months. Pincus and Rock selected Searle’s noretynodrel for the first contraceptive trials in women, citing its total lack of androgenicity versus Syntex’s norethisterone very slight androgenicity in animal tests.
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What Are Some Common Names Of Birth Control Pills
Examples of combination birth control pills include:
See a full list of combination birth control pills here.
A monthly period still occurs with the traditional, combination birth control pills. Women may also choose the extended or continuous dosing birth control pill, in which a period only occurs 4 times a years or is completely eliminated . It is also possible to completely eliminate periods by taking only the active pills continuously from a combination birth control pill package, and skipping the inactive pills. Ask your healthcare provider if this would be a good option for you.
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Find The Best Birth Control For You
Thanks for checking out our list of types of birth control without estrogen! Weve only touched on some of the methods available and how they work, so if youre serious about switching birth control, its always worth discussing your options in full with your doctor. In the meantime, why not find out if Natural Cycles could be an option for you?
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Are Birth Control Pills Considered Hormone Therapy
No, birth control pills arent used as hormone therapy . The hormones in birth control pills are used to stop ovulation, so theyre at a much higher dose than the amount of hormones you find in HT.
The goal of HT is to get your postmenopausal hormone levels close to what they were before menopause. Typically, lower doses of hormones are used during HT. And the dose of hormones given during each HT session often varies depending on your individual needs.
If You’re Less Than 3 Or Less Than 12 Hours Late Taking The Pill
If you’re taking a 3-hour progestogen-only pill and are less than 3 hours late taking it, or if you’re taking the 12-hour progestogen-only pill and are less than 12 hours late:
- take the late pill as soon as you remember, and
- take the remaining pills as normal, even if that means taking 2 pills on the same day
The pill will still work, and you’ll be protected against pregnancy you do not need to use additional contraception.
Do not worry if you’ve had sex without using another form of contraception. You do not need emergency contraception.
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