How effective are the birth control pills?

Written by Janna Mustafina MSN, FNP-C

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birth control pills (also called "the pill") are the medications that contain hormones to prevent ovulation and, therefore, prevent pregnancy.  Females take one pill by mouth every day. They are 99% effective. They are most effective if taken at the same time of the day (or within 3 hours time window).  More than 3 hours window is considered being late with the pill schedule. 

 

How does the pill work?

These pills contain estrogen and/or progestin. Both hormones are released into your body to prevent ovulation.  How does "the pill" work? 

  • They stop ovulation

  • They thick the cervical mucus to create a plug (door) to prevent sperm from entering the uterus

  • They thin the uterus lining so an egg is less likely to attach and get fertilized by the sperm.

Types of birth control pills:

 

Birth control pills can be divided into 2 main categories:

 - combined hormonal contraceptives (CHC) 

 -  progestin-only pills or "mini-pills" (POPs)

Information on hormonal ingredients, brand and generic names, doses. 

CHC pills contain both hormones - estrogen and progestin. CHC pills vary by the amount of estrogen in it. Generally, CHC pills contain from 10-35 mcg of estrogen (or 0.01-0.035 in mg). Pills that contain 20mcg or less of estrogen are considered low-dose pills. They are usually recommended for women with side effects such as nausea, mood swings. The lowest amount of estrogen you can find in Lo Loestrin Fe (only 10mcg). Lo Loestrin is a combination of Norethindrone (progestin) and Ethinyl Estradiol (estrogen). 

Other most common names of combined birth control pills with the same hormonal ingredients but higher dose of estrogen are:

  • Junel Fe

  • Loestrin Fe 

  • Taytulla 

  • Microgestin Fe 

  • Blisovi Fe 

  • Minastrin 

  • Larin Fe 

  • Hailey Fe 

  • Tarina Fe 

  • Mibelas Fe 

  • Loestrin Fe 

  • Junel 

  • Microgestin

  • Estrostep Fe

Another popular brand name of CHC pills is Yaz. Yaz is a combination of Drospirenone (progestin) and Estradiol (estrogen). Yaz is also one of the FDA approved CHC pills for acne treatment. 

The most common names of the same hormonal combination are below:

  • Loryna

  • Ocella

  • Gianvi

  • Yasmin

  • Nikki

  • Zarah

  • Syeda

  • Vestura

  • Zumandimine

  • Lo-Zumandimine

Next popular brand name of combined birth control is Sesonique. Sesonique is a combination of Levonorgestrel (progestin) and Ethinyl Estradiol (estrogen). 

Their equivalent brand names are:

  • Aviane

  • Lutera

  • Orsthia

  • Vienva

  • Sronyx

  • Portia

  • Jolessa

  • Lessina

  • Altavera

  • Camrese

  • Levora

  • Ashlyna

  • Daysee

  • Marlissa

  • Falmina

  • Kurvelo

  • Enpresse

  • Amethia

This is a very common question. The answer depends on what factors are important to you. Those factors can be the cost, acne control, chewable or to swallow, skipping periods, less spotting, lower risk of nausea or belly bloating, shorten or skipping periods. Once the provider knows what factors are important to you - she/he will propose you the best choice for your birth control. 

 

Though, side effects or adverse reactions from birth control pills are not very common, some females have higher sensitivity to estrogen than others, some have contraindications, or at higher risk for side effects.  The sensitivity to estrogen may be resulted in weight gain, nausea, headache, irregular bleeding, breast tenderness. More serious potential risk and side effects of estrogen contained pills are increase in blood pressure, stroke, blood clots, heart attack. 

Therefore, it is important to provide us full information about your past health history, height weight, your recent blood pressure, allergies, current medications, etc. Safe prescribing is one of our mission and we always ask our clients to disclose all the details in your health history to make to most appropriate clinical decision for each case. 

What are the "mini-pills"?

Mini-pills are progestin-only pills (POPs). Those pills do not contain estrogen at all. The examples are Camila, Heather, Errin, Nora-Be, Jencycla, Jolivette. POPs are recommended for smoking females 35yo and older, breastfeeding or recent post-partum moms, or those who have migraine with aura. POPs have lower risk for stroke, heart attacks, blood clots.

What are the birth control pills?

What is the best choice of birth control pills for me?

How do you benefit from low- or high-dose estrogen pills?

Need a birth control prescription. Not sure what is the right pill for you? Please click below to start with the prescription request and we will be right back with you to discuss your options. 

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