How to Choose the Right Birth Control Pill
Read this before you see your gynecologist!
There are several types of birth control pills on the market, which can make it hard to know which one to pick. Our experts break down the pros and cons of each type of Pill so you can decide, with your doctor, which one is best for you.
The first birth control pills were monophasics and have been around since 1960, according to Gerson Weiss, M.D., professor and chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health at New Jersey Medical School in Newark.
Monophasics, which have an equal dose of the hormones estrogen and progestin (the synthetic version of progesterone), deliver a constant dose of these hormones for three weeks, followed by a week of placebo pills, also known as inactive pills. Because of a process called hormonal withdrawal, the week of being off the pill triggers bleeding as if you were having a regular period; bleeding on the Pill isn’t considered a natural period. (The placebo pills are included to remind women to take the pills daily throughout the month.) Examples of these pills include Yasmin, Yaz, and Alesse.
Pros: The hormonal dose is consistent in each pill, making it easy to take the active pills continuously to skip your period. Also, unlike triphasic pills (see below), the color of monophasic pills doesn’t change, eliminating confusion over which pill to take.
Cons: Some studies show that monophasic pill users have more side effects (such as headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness) than triphasic-pill users do, but for the most part both types have similar side effects.
The hormonal dosage changes every seven days in the 21-day pill pack. The first triphasic pill (Ortho Novum 7/7/7) was approved by the FDA in 1984. Other examples of triphasic pills include Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Triphasil.
Pros: It’s believed to more closely follow the natural hormonal ups and downs of a woman’s ovulation cycle.
Cons: It’s harder to intentionally skip your period by taking active pills back-to-back, as you do with triphasics.