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Types of Birth Control Pills

Types of Birth Control Pills

Oral contraceptives, is the most popular and easy method used for family planning. There are various birth control pills that are easily available in the market under different names, having different compositions based on the requirement.
Marlene Alphonse
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Birth control pills or oral contraceptives are a type of hormonal birth control method that help in preventing pregnancy. These pills contain synthetic female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, similar to the ones produced by the female ovaries. The pills have become very popular in this age among couples, who are opting for small families or no children at all.

Types of Pills and Their Side Effects

Conception takes place when a sperm fertilizes the egg. When this fertilized egg or the embryo implants itself in a woman's uterus, she is said to be pregnant. During every menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs and certain hormones are released to prepare the body for pregnancy. The main function of birth control is to inhibit the sperm from fusing with the egg. The pills are a form of hormonal contraceptives that release artificial hormones to control the actual hormones from performing their role. They help in family planning by inhibiting the production of ova or eggs. Birth control pills have to be taken regularly for 21 days. Once the dose is over, you will get your period. You can resume taking pills after a week. You must strictly follow the regime of taking the pills at the same time every day, because even if you forget it for one day, there are chances of you becoming pregnant. Use of hormonal contraceptives makes the inner lining of the uterus unfit for the implantation of the zygote. Another way is that, the oral contraceptives thicken the cervical mucus in the womb, thus preventing the sperm from reaching the ovum.

Combination Pills
Combination pill is made of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, which prevents pregnancy by causing changes to the reproductive tract. They prevent ovulation and also prevent the sperm from reaching the egg by thickening the cervical mucus. There are three types of combination pills available in the market - monophasic, biphasic, and triphasic. They are available in 21-day or 28-day packs. In the 21-day pack, all the pills are active and the woman does not take pills for the last week of the cycle. In the 28-day pack, the woman takes 21 active pills and seven placebo pills or supplements that are inactive.
Side Effects - Nausea, breast tenderness, low libido, and frequent headaches. Irregular bleeding may occur within the first two months of its usage. Women having a history of heart disease or high blood pressure should avoid taking combination pills.

Mini Pills
The mini pill contains only synthetic progesterone, which thickens the uterine mucus making it harder for the sperm to impregnate the egg and changes the inner wall of the uterus making it impossible for the embryo to embed in the uterine wall. The mini pill comes in a 28-day pack with all the pills being active. It is specially made for women, who are allergic to estrogen containing contraceptive pills.
Side Effects - Lactating mothers should not consider using mini pills, as it may reduce milk production. Women suffering from blood clots become more susceptible to blood cancer. They can also cause a woman to have irregular menstruation.

Extended Cycle Pills
The extended cycle pill is a recent addition to the types of oral contraceptives available today. This pill limits the occurrence of menstrual cycle from 13 cycles per year, to just four or a single period per season.
Side Effects - The estrogen and progesterone levels in this pill can worsen diabetes, as it increases glucose in the bloodstream. Women taking this medication may experience abdominal cramping, heat flashes, fatigue, and also have difficulty sleeping.

One question that many women ask is 'Are birth control pills effective?' Though there are many types of pills available in the market, the effectiveness of these oral contraceptives depends on the specific pill type. Before you start a dose of birth control pills, consult a gynecologist, who will guide you appropriately.