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3 Oral Contraceptive Options – Understand The Differences

The birth control pill is a safe, effective means of preventing pregnancy, but its benefits go beyond the obvious. Many doctors prescribe the contraceptive to regulate the menstrual cycle, to alleviate period-related pain, to treat acne, and especially for conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Many types of birth control pills exist, but they all fall under two main categories: the combination and the progestin-only pill. As a health care professional, it’s important to understand the differences so you can better meet patients’ needs.

1. Combination Pill

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Conventional combination ones contain both estrogen and progestin. The standard dose requires taking one every day for 21 days, followed by seven days of inactive “reminder”. Certain brands may consist of 24 days and four inactive doses. Either way, the combination pill allows women to get their periods monthly on an expected schedule.

2. Extended Cycle Combination Pill

The combination dose also includes a subset of options that contain the same combination of hormones, but they work differently from the conventional option. Extended cycle combination contraceptive is taken for a longer period, typically about 12 weeks, followed by a week of inactive pills.

This schedule allows patients to still get their periods, but only three or four times a year, as opposed to monthly. That’s great news for women who suffer from severe menstrual cramps or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Combination Pill Advantages and Options

Combination birth control contraceptive has many benefits, including:

  • Shorter, lighter periods
  • Reduced acne
  • Less severe cramps
  • Reduced risk of ovarian cancer
  • Prevention of period-related anemia
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Popular combination dose options include Yaz, Yasmin, and Ortho Tri-Cyclen, but there are many other brands that can range in both side effects and price. For instance, Sprintec combination birth control pill click here can drastically reduce cramping, improve overall mood, and help a patient avoid weight gain, but it might cause nausea and headaches, especially during the first cycle.

3. Progestin-only Pill

Unlike combination doses, progestin-only birth control doesn’t contain estrogen, which is ideal for people who are sensitive to the hormone. Women who are breastfeeding, for example, can start taking this type of oral contraceptive right after giving birth. Doctors might also prescribe progestin-only birth control for patients with a personal or family history of blood clots.

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Of course, there are some drawbacks to the progestin-only tablet. Not only does it cost more than combination pills, but you must take it at the same time every day in order for it to be effective. There’s also a slightly higher failure rate with progestin-only birth control than with the combination dose.

On the plus side, this form of birth control is a safer option for those with cardiovascular concerns, blood pressure problems, frequent migraines, and estrogen sensitivities. Popular brands include Jolivette, Norethindrone, Ovrette, and Errin.

If you’re having trouble gaining access to effective, affordable birth control, telemedicine is a great option. Telemedicine works by providing clinical health care options via an internet connection. Thanks to online birth control delivery companies such as Nurx, it’s easy for patients to get the oral contraceptives they need without having to visit a doctor in person. You can even discuss your concerns with a Nurx provider who will help you determine which one is right for you.

About Marta Sebos