Welcome to the second part of our blog series, where we answer some common questions to getting started on birth control.
In case you missed our previous post..
Part 1: The Basics – Birth Control and your Body
Part 2: Let’s Talk More about the Pill
The pill is one of the most popular forms of birth control and is usually the first thing women try.
What are the types of pills?
There are two kinds of birth control pills: the combination pill and the mini-pill. Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin. The mini pill is progestin only.
The combination pill is the most popular pill, but isn’t suitable for women with health conditions such as migraines with aura or high blood pressure. Combination pills are also risky if you smoke, are over 35, have recently given birth or take certain medications or herbal supplements.
In these cases women are usually prescribed the progestin only mini-pill. These pills contain only one hormone – progestin. The mini pill works well for those unable to take regular combined pills and sometimes has fewer side effects. However, you do have to be strict on taking it at the same time every day for effectiveness (use a pill reminder and tracker – such as Clue!) and the drawbacks can include lower period regularity.
So how do I choose a pill?
Every woman is different, and will have different reactions to birth control. There are hundreds of different pill names out on the market (many of which are the same active ingredients by different manufacturers).
We recommend speaking to a medical provider about your health history and specific concerns. Either in-person with a provider you feel comfortable with, or online through a confidential doctor’s consultation (yes, there are now apps to chat with a provider about birth control!).
Usually doctors will start you off with the most commonly prescribed pills and check in with you to see how you feel after a few weeks on the pill.
How do I actually start taking the pill?
You can start taking the pill on any day of the month. The immediate effectiveness depends on when in your cycle you started taking it – to be safe it’s recommended to use additional contraception (such as condoms) for the first 14 days. Your pill will also come with an instruction leaflet with detailed instructions on how to take it.