Combination pills and minipills work differently. Combination pills prevent ovulation, so a woman will not release an egg each month. These pills also thicken cervical mucus so that sperm can’t travel to the uterus. The minipill also thickens cervical mucus. These pills also thin the endometrium, or uterine lining. This makes implantation more difficult, thus preventing pregnancy.
2. How often do I need a new pack?
Birth control pills come in a pack with a set amount of pills. Because combination pills contain active and inactive pills, the packs may come in 21-day, 24-day, or 28-day formats. Minipills, or progestin-only pills, only come in 28-day packs.
3. When do I take the pill?
With both types of pills, women need to take one pill around the same time each day. The minipill needs to be taken within the same 3-hour range every day to work effectively. Women should also aim to take combination pills at the same time every day. However, women have a little more leeway to take a combination pill and still have protection against pregnancy. If combination pills are taken within the same 12-hour window each day, the pill will still work.
4. How effective are birth control pills?
Birth control pills are an extremely effective option for preventing pregnancy. With average use, these pills are 91% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, women should understand that certain medications or vitamins can make birth control pills less effective. Some antibiotics, antiseizure medications, or HIV drugs can impact the pills’ efficacy. St. John’s wort, an herbal remedy often used to boost mental health, can also interfere with birth control pills.
Which pill should I choose?
When choosing a birth control type, women should be open with a healthcare provider about lifestyle, needs, and reasons for choosing birth control. For example, women who take birth control to manage menstrual symptoms have different needs than those who take birth control only to prevent pregnancy. For more information about selecting birth control, speak with a trusted OB/GYN.