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    Birth Control Pills: What Are the Choices?

    How Do You Take Combination Pills? continued...

    Continuous-use: You take an active pill every day and never have a period. You might have breakthrough bleeding, especially at first.

    You may want fewer periods or none at all, especially if you have problem periods. But you may wonder how you’ll know if you get pregnant by accident.

    If you think you could be, take a pregnancy test. They work even if you're taking the pill. If the test is positive, stop taking your pills and call your doctor.

    Should I Consider the Mini-Pill?

    It may be a good choice if you smoke or can’t use the combination pill because of the estrogen.

    If you had estrogen-linked side effects, like tender breasts or nausea, even after switching to a low-dose pill, you may want to try the mini-pill. It’s a safe choice if you have high blood pressure or other conditions that can be aggravated by estrogen.

    It’s also an option if you just gave birth or are breastfeeding. It won’t affect your milk supply or hurt your baby.

    Common side effects are similar to the combination pill, but bleeding can be more unpredictable. You may have spotting, heavy periods, or no period at all.

    How Well Does the Mini-Pill Work?

    It's as effective as the combination pill. But it’s trickier to take.

    You must swallow it at the same time each day. If you’re late by more than 3 hours, it becomes less effective. If this happens, you need to use backup birth control (such as condoms) for the next 2 days.

    All 28 mini-pills are active.

    What Else Should I Know About Birth Control Pills?

    They might not be the best option for you. So talk to your doctor before you choose your contraception method. Make sure she knows your health history and any other medications you take. Some meds make the pill less effective. This includes herbal remedies like St. John’s wort.

    You shouldn’t take any type of birth control pill if you’ve had breast cancer.

    Also, the pill doesn't protect you from STDs.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on December 14, 2015
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