What Are Combination Birth Control Pills?
Birth control pills help keep you from getting pregnant. When taken daily, they are one of the most effective methods of contraception. For most women they are extremely safe. They also have a number of other benefits, including helping to:
- Improve painful, heavy, or irregular periods
- Treat acne
- Prevent ovarian cancer
Combination birth control pills contain both estrogen and progestin. Some combination birth control pills allow you to have fewer periods each year. These are called continuous or extended-cycle pills. Ask your health care provider about dosing options to decrease the frequency of your menstrual cycles.
Types of Combination Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills come in packages. You take pills from a 21-pack once a day for 3 weeks, then you do not take pills for 1 week. It may be easier to remember to take 1 pill every day, so other pills come in a 28-pack of pills, with some having active pills (containing hormones) and some with no hormones.
There are 5 types of combination birth control pills. Your provider will help you choose the right one for you. The 5 types are:
- One phase pills: These have the same amount of estrogen and progestin in all the active pills.
- Two phase pills: The level of hormones in these pills changes once during each menstrual cycle.
- Three phase pills: Every 7 days the dose of hormones changes.
- Four phase pills: The dose of hormones in these pills changes 4 times each cycle.
- Continuous or extended cycle pills: These keep the level of hormones up so you have few or no periods.