Ask the Nurse

How do I know which birth control pills are right for me?

“The Pill” recently turned 50. In the past half century, no medication has been more studied than the birth control pill, with more options on the market every day. Your physician will help you choose the right pill for you.Birth control pills have broad appeal for their ease of use and relatively low cost. They fall into two main classes: progestin only, and combined estrogen and progestin pills.

Progestin only pills work by thinning the uterine lining and thickening the cervical mucus and making it more difficult for the sperm to fertilize the egg. They are particularly appropriate for women who can’t take estrogen for medical reasons such as high blood pressure or a history of clots, and for nursing mothers. One downside of progestin only pills is that they must be taken at the same time every day. If a woman misses the time by more than three hours, she will not be protected.

Combined oral contraceptives come in many different combinations, with varying levels of estrogen and progestin. They work by inhibiting ovulation. Some are marketed specifically to suppress periods for an extended length of time. These preparations are attractive to women who do not want the inconvenience or pain of a monthly period. A women’s health specialist will share the pros and cons. Fortunately, there are so many choices that if you aren’t happy with the particular pills you start with, there are plenty more to try.

All My Best,
Speaking of Women's Health Nurse

July 22, 2011 at 2:34pm