Low Dose Birth Control – What It is, Pros & Cons

Low Dose Birth Control - What It is, Pros & Cons

Birth control pills have been one of the most preferred contraceptive options for women because of their efficacy and convenience. Though this method is considered safe for various reasons, there are still some health risks associated with it. But with the advent of newer low dose birth control pills, the risks associated with pills have become considerably low. Let us find more about these low-dose birth control pills, their pros, cons, and other important aspects.

What is Low Dose Birth Control?

Low dose birth control pills are a kind of birth control measure that contains lower amounts of hormones than other birth control pills. This means that these kinds of pills have fewer side-effects and are considered a better or safer bet than higher hormone birth control pills. Where some low-estrogen birth control pills contain progestin too, other low dose pills just contain low progestin in them. The effectiveness of low dose birth control or the success rate of both kinds of low dose birth control pills is approximately 99.7 per cent in keeping unwanted pregnancies at bay.

How Are They Different From Other Contraceptives?

Hormonal contraceptives have been fairly popular since their advent in the United States, which goes way back in 1960. Where conventional hormonal contraceptives contained considerably higher doses of estrogen and progesterone hormones, their newer counterparts contained fairly lower amounts of both these hormones in them. This not only made the low-dose birth control pills more popular amongst the present-day women but these pills also offered a more inexpensive, efficient, and safer contraceptive option in hand. Thus, now the present-day woman has a birth control method at her discretion which is not only beneficial for improving her quality of life and offering freedom of choice but also in keeping health complications such as hormonal imbalance at bay. Therefore, these pills offer a win-win situation to women in recent times.

Low-dose birth control is a safer bet, but these also come with their own set of side-effects or drawbacks. Therefore, it is important that all the health risks or side-effects should be weighed properly before choosing the right contraceptive method for you!

woman holding low dose birth control pills

Types of Low Dose Birth Control

Usually, birth control pills contain two types of hormones, namely progestin and estrogen. And both these hormones help in regulating the menstrual cycle of a woman and preventing any unwanted pregnancy. The low-dose birth control pills come in the following two types:

1. The Combination Low-Dose Birth Control Pill

These pills come with approximately 10 to 35 mcg of estrogen. However, some pills (high-dose birth control pills) can contain up to 50 mcg of estrogen. These days doctors prescribe low-dose combination pills rather the prescribing high-dose ones because the former works just like the later and also has fewer side-effects.

2. The Progestin-Only Low-Dose Birth Control Pill

These pills unlike combination pills only contain progestin in them. It is important that these pills are taken at the same time every day so that they work just as well as combination pills. This pill is usually prescribed to women who are nearing menopause, breastfeeding, or have similar conditions.

Who Should Go for Low Estrogen Pills?

In most cases, your doctor will prescribe you a birth control pills that comes with 30 to 35 mcg estrogen. However, if you are under 100 pounds or you have been experiencing any kind of nausea or other side-effects by taking 30 -35 mcg birth control pill, then you can be prescribed a pill with lower estrogen and, thus, it can go down to 10 to 20 mcg of estrogen in it.

It will be in your best interest if you consult your health care provider before taking any kind of low dose estrogen pill. Your doctor will help you determine whether a low or ultra-low dose birth control pill is suitable for you!

What Are the Benefits of Low Dose Birth Control?

Here are some of the many benefits of using low dose combination birth control pill:

  • It may reduce the symptoms associated with PMS or premenstrual syndrome.
  • If your periods are irregular, taking these pills can make them regular.
  • You may experience lighter menstrual bleeding than usual.
  • You may get extra protection against PID or pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Your menstrual pain or cramps may be less severe and painful than before.
  • You may be at a lower risk of developing any kind of ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, or endometrial cancer.

Now lets us discuss some of the pros of taking low dose progestin-only pills:

  • You may experience less painful periods because of reduced cramping.
  • Your menstrual flow may become lighter (it can be an absolute saviour for women with excessive menstrual bleeding).
  • You can take these pills even when you are breastfeeding, as a low amount of estrogen proves to be a safer bet for breastfeeding mothers.
  • Taking these pills also means a lower or reduced risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, endometrial cancer, and other such complications.

low-dose birth control

What Are the Side Effects of Low Dose Birth Control?

Here are some drawbacks or side-effects of taking combination low dose birth control pills:

  • You can experience a headache.
  • You may suffer from nausea.
  • You may have occasional bouts of vomiting.
  • You may suffer from mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
  • You may experience changes in your body weight (you may either gain or lose weight).
  • You may experience breast soreness or tenderness.
  • It may increase your risk of a stroke.
  • It may increase your risk of having a heart attack.
  • It may increase blood clots.
  • It may reduce breast milk production in breastfeeding mothers.
  • You may experience spotting in between your menstrual cycles.
  • You may go through occasional mood swings.
  • You may experience decreased libido.

Here are some disadvantages of low-dose progestin pill:

  • It may cause ovarian cysts.
  • It may cause mental health issues such as depression.
  • It may cause pain or tenderness in your breasts.
  • It may lead to bloating.
  • It may cause headaches.
  • It may lead to spotting between your menstrual cycles.
  • If may lead to irregular periods.

Who Should Refrain From Consuming Low-Dose Birth Control Pills?

If you fall under any of the following categories, low dose birth control options may not be a good idea for you:

  • If you are a woman over 35 years of age and you also smoke.
  • If you are pregnant.
  • If you suffer from migraines with aura.
  • If you presently have or have had breast cancer.
  • If you have a family history of stroke, heart disease, or blood clots.
  • If you suffer from hypertension (even if you are taking medicine to keep it under control, you should refrain).

What Other Contraception Methods Other Than Pills Contain Low Dose Estrogen?

In the present times almost, all hormonal contraceptive options contain fairly low amounts of estrogen and, thus, they can be considered low dose contraceptives. Here are some other contraceptive methods that contain a low dose of estrogen:

1. The Patch

A birth control patch is a low dose estrogen birth control option and it delivers as low as 20 micrograms of estrogen into your body. The estrogen is released on daily basis for a period of a week or until the patch is changed. In comparison to a pill, your body can get higher doses of estrogen through a patch because estrogen is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. If you are someone at a higher risk of blood clots, this method of contraception should not be considered.

2. The Ring

Another low dose estrogen contraception is a ring that is inserted in the body for a month. The ring slowly releases approximately 15 micrograms of estrogen in the body. However, according to one of the studies published, it was observed that women who used such rings for a period of two or more years did not gain any bone density in comparison to women who didn’t use this ring. Therefore, if you are a woman under 30 years of age, using a ring may not be a good idea for you as it may affect the mineral density of your bones.

Low dose birth control pills are a great contraceptive option. If you can take a pill every day at the same time, you are a breastfeeding mother or fall under any such category, taking a progestin-only pill may work well for you. However, if you are not diligent about taking pills then a combination low-dose birth control pill may work for you. If you are thinking of starting a low-dose birth control option, you should get in touch with your health care practitioner and find out which kind of pill is ideal for you!

Also Read:

Does Birth Control Affects Your Future Fertility
Brown Discharge on Birth Control Pills
Side Effects of Birth Control Pills