Which birth control pill is right for me?

When it comes to female contraception, the pill seems to be the most obvious choice.

However, this may not be suitable for every woman, as it can cause unwanted side effects, or is simply an inconvenience to take every day.

If you are exploring your options a good place to start is the Active Ingredients blog, which is a helpful resource on many sexual health-related matters ranging from contraception and STIs to advice about erectile problems and viagra for men.

This article will outline your options when it comes to birth control pills, giving you a better understanding of which ones may be right for you:

Combined pill

The combined pill, more commonly known as “the pill”, contains artificial versions of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are produced naturally by your body.

The pill works by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month, or ovulating. It also makes it more difficult for sperm to penetrate the womb and fertilise an egg by thickening the mucus which lines the cervix. In addition, the pill causes the lining of the womb to become thinner reducing the likelihood of a fertilised egg being successfully implanted and growing there.

In terms of its chances of preventing pregnancy, the combined pill is more than 99% effective if used correctly as per its instructions. In other words, the chances of a woman falling pregnant whilst on the combined pill are less than one woman in 100 per year.

Mini pill

Also known as the progestogen-only pill or POP, the mini pill contains an artificial version of the hormone progesterone and, as the name suggests does not contain oestrogen.

Similar to the combined pill, the mini pill works by making it more difficult for sperm to enter the womb and fertilise an egg by thickening the cervical mucus. It also makes the lining of the womb thinner reducing the chances of it accepting a fertilised egg.

The mini pill also suppresses ovulation, however, unlike the combined pill it does not do this consistently. Some types of progestogen-only pill which contain desogestrel prevent ovulation in 97% of cases. Both the mini pill and the combined pill are over 99% effective if used perfectly as per their instructions.

 

Morning-after pill

Technically, this is a form of emergency contraception to be used after your usual birth control method has failed, for example, due to a condom splitting or failing to take a pill. 

The morning after pill is a progesterone-only hormone pill that works by delaying the egg from being released by the ovaries, preventing the sperm from reaching, and therefore, possibly fertilising it. In this way, an unwanted pregnancy is prevented.

The sooner you take the morning-after pill, the greater the chances of avoiding pregnancy as its effectiveness decreases the closer it is to your ovulation time. It is important to note that the morning-after pill will not be effective if fertilisation of the egg has already occurred. Its effectiveness can be summarised as follows:

 -   95% of pregnancies are prevented if the morning after pill is taken within the first 24 hours after  sex

-  85% if taken between 24 to 48 hours after sex

-  58% if taken between 48 to 72 hours after sex

 

Now that you are armed with the facts, you can make an educated and healthy choice for your own body.

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