Are low-dose birth control pills right for you? – MindofAll

Are low-dose birth control pills right for you?

  • How does the pill work
  • Low-dose combination pills
  • Side effects and benefits
  • Low-dose mini pills
  • Side effects and benefits
  • Consider the risk factors
  • Takeaway

A low-dose or progestin-only pill may be right, which is best for you if you regularly take your birth control pills simultaneously each day.

Since 1960, birth control pills have been the most popular method to prevent pregnancy in the United States. They are practical, easily accessible, and cheap.

Most women consider birth control pills safe. Although they can pose some risks, the newer low-dose birth control pills can help to reduce them.

Today, most birth control pills are low-dose. This applies to the combination pill (estrogen + progestin) and the mini pill, which is progestin alone.

Low-dose pills contain 10-30 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen. Ultra-low-dose tablets contain ten mcg or less of estrogen. Most birth control pills contain estrogen. This increases the risk of developing health problems like blood clots or stroke.

Mini Pills are an exception. The mini pill contains only 35 mg of progestin.

Low-dose birth control pills may contain 50 mcg or more of estrogen. They are not commonly used today as there are lower doses. The 150 mg estrogenTrusted Source was the first pill to hit the market.

What birth control pills do

Your body uses the hormone estrogen to make eggs and prepare for pregnancy.

The hormone levels produced when a sperm fails to fertilize an egg drop sharply. Your uterus will then shed the lining it has built up. This lining will be removed during your period.

Birth control pills can contain synthetic estrogen, synthetic progesterone, or both. Progesterone, a synthetic form of progesterone, is also known as progestin.

Progestin and estrogen work in different ways to prevent pregnancy. Both contain the pituitary from producing hormones which trigger pregnancy.

Your cervical mucus is also thickened by progestin, making it more difficult for sperm to reach any eggs. The uterine lining is also affected by progestin. If the sperm fertilizes an egg, it will be more difficult for it to implant there.

Low-dose combination birth control pills

Combination contraceptives contain both estrogen and progestin. They are 99.7% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies. The failure rate for most users, including those who miss a few doses of the pill, is around 7%Trusted Source.

These are some familiar brand low-dose birth control pills:

  • Apri (desogestrel, ethinyl estradiol).
  • Aviane (levonorgestrel, ethinyl estradiol).
  • Levlen 21 (levonorgestrel et ethinyl estradiol).
  • Levora (levonorgestrel, ethinyl estradiol).
  • Lo Loestrin Fe (norethindrone estradiol and norethindrone acetate)
  • Lo/Ovral (norgestrel, ethinyl estradiol).
  • Ortho-Novum is a combination of norethindrone (ethinyl estradiol) and ortho-Novum.
  • Yasmin is a combination of ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone
  • Yaz (drospirenone, ethinyl estradiol).

Lo Loestrin Fe can be considered an ultra-low dose pill because it contains 10 mg of estrogen.

Low-dose combination birth control pills

A low-dose combination pill has many benefits:

  • You are more likely to have regular periods.
  • Your periods might be shorter.
  • You may experience less severe cramping during your menstrual cycle.
  • You may not experience severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • You might be protected against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • There may be a lower risk of ovarian carcinoma, cervical cancer, or endometrial tumour.

However, there are some drawbacks to taking low-dose combination pills. These could include:

  • An increased chance of heart attacks
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • An increased risk of blood clots
  • Reduced milk supply. This is why doctors won’t recommend this medication if you’re nursing.

Other side effects could include:

  • vomiting
  • headache
  • tender breasts
  • Weight Change
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Low-dose progestin-only contraceptive

A “mini pill” is a progestin-only tablet that is 99.7% effective when used correctly. The failure rate is approximately 7%Trusted Source.

You have a greater chance of getting pregnant if you miss a dose or don’t take your minipills at the exact times each day. Mini Pills that aren’t correctly handled can have lower effectiveness.

Minipills may cause bleeding and spotting, but these side effects usually disappear within a few months. Minipills may also reduce the length of your periods.

These are the most common brands of low-dose progestin-only contraceptives:

  • Camila
  • Errin
  • Heather
  • Jolivette
  • Micronor
  • Nora-BE

These pills contain norethindrone, a form of progesterone.

Mini Pills at a low dose

Progestin-only tablets may be an option if you cannot take estrogen due to risk factors such as smoking or a history of heart disease.

Low-dose progestin-only tablets offer other benefits:

  • If you are breastfeeding, they can be taken.
  • These reduce your chance of developing endometrial cancer, or PID.
  • There may be shorter periods.
  • You may experience less cramping.

Low-dose progestin-only drugs can have the following disadvantages:

  • spotting between periods
  • Periods that are longer and more irregular

Some side effects may include:

  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Sore breasts
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Ovarian cysts


A study by nearly 1000 women from New York University Langone Medical Center showed that women who took low-dose birth control pills were likelier than those who used standard birth control pills to feel pain or discomfort during sex.

Consider the risk factors.

If you are:

  • are pregnant
  • Are over 35 and smoke
  • Have a history of stroke, heart disease, or blood clots
  • Breast Cancer – Have you or were you a victim of this?
  • Migraines with Aura
  • High Blood Pressure, even though it is managed with medication

If you are breastfeeding, most doctors recommend taking progestin-only tablets. Because it only contains progestin, the minipill is frequently used.

You may be less diligent about taking your pills every day. If this is the case, alternative options like the contraceptive insert, injection, or intrauterine device might be better.

Discuss your medical history with your doctor and discuss your goals for birth control. You can choose the best birth control option together.

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