There are plenty of birth control brands available and many things that you should take into consideration before choosing one. It is important to discuss new medications or a change to your existing medication with your doctor before switching. It can be helpful to bring your questions and concerns to your doctor when you are ready to discuss the options available. In this article we will review the different types of birth control and what you can expect from each of them.


Two different types of pills offered

There are two main types of birth control pills on the market. Those are combination pills and mini-pills. Combination pills provide both estrogen and progestin and there is a very wide variety of pills to choose from with different dosages of each. The mini-pill contains only progestin and does not offer quite as wide of a variety of pills as the combination pills. Let’s take a closer look into both types of pills.


Combination Pills

These pills come with different amounts of active and inactive pills. Which you choose depends on how often you want to have your period. These types include:

Conventional Combination Pills

Bleeding occurs once a month with a conventional pack of combination pills. They typically include 21 days of active pills and 7 days of inactive pills. Some include 24 days of active pills and 4 days of inactive pills.

Continuous Dosing or Extended Cycle Combination Pills

These birth control pills usually contain 84 active pills and 7 inactive pills. Your period happens typically only four times a year with these pills. There are also pill packs that can eliminate bleeding altogether.


Combination pills are known to provide relief from PMS symptoms including less menstrual cramping. This option is also an easily reversed method if you decide to stop birth control at a later time in life and want to become pregnant. Combination pills also tend to result in shorter, lighter, and more predictable periods.


Skipping a pill or taking it late may reduce effectiveness of the medication. There are also some increased health risks, especially those associated with smokers. Combination pills have a potential for side effects including bloating, nausea, depression, and weight gain.


The Mini-pill

These pills do not come in a variety of packs. The pill contains only progestin and each pill contains the same amount. This means that all the pills are active. You can choose to skip a week of pills in order to allow for bleeding, or to continue into the next pack and skip bleeding.


The mini-pill can be taken even with certain health problems. This is also an easily reversed birth control method if you decide to get pregnant at another time in life. This option is less likely to interfere with breast-feeding than combination pills and also has a lowered risk of endometrial cancer. 


The mini-pills must be taken at the same time every day or it may reduce their effectiveness. There are known side effects such as ovarian cysts, decreased libido, acne, weight gain, and depression which may occur. This option also has a slightly increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy, if pregnancy accidentally occurs while on this medication. 


How does each pill work?

The combination pill prevents your ovary from releasing an egg, whereas the mini-pill slows the egg’s process down the fallopian tubes, thickens cervical mucus, and thins the endometrium, therefore helping to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.


How do you know which is right for you?

It is important that you speak with your doctor about exactly what you want from your birth control. Take into consideration how often you want to have a period, what type of hormones you want to be taking, and what type of protection you want. You should also see how your body reacts to the pill you choose. It may be necessary to try and switch between a few brands before you find the one that is the right fit for you.