THE PILL

So popular it just goes by one name—‘the pill’! They’re awesome, but don’t be afraid to explore other methods like the IUD or Implant—especially if you have trouble getting the pill or remembering to take it.

EFFECTIVENESS
The pill is really effective when it’s taken perfectly.
SIDE-EFFECTS
The most common ones are sore breasts, nausea, spotting and a decreased sex drive. Every body reacts differently to different pills. Switching to a different pill brand can help alleviate the side effects.
COST
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, if you have health insurance, chances are good you’ll be able to use this method with no out-of-pocket cost. The exception may be if you use a name brand that has a generic equivalent. Tricare, the military insurance, covers this method at Tricare-authorized providers. Medicaid also covers it.
WHERE TO GET THEM
You'll need to see your doctor.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
The pill can help regulate periods, control acne, help with endometriosis and make periods less painful.
OTHER NOTES
You have to take it every. single. day.

“The pill” is a pill—how’s that for stating the obvious? Some people call it oral contraception. Take it once a day, at the same time every day. There are many different kinds of the pill on the market, and new ones come out all the time. They work by releasing hormones that keep your ovaries from releasing eggs. The hormones also thicken your cervical mucus, which helps to block sperm from getting to the egg in the first place. There are two main types.

Combination:

These pills use an estrogen/progestin combo that works with your body to prevent ovulation. A monthly combination pill pack contains three consecutive weeks of hormone-based pills and a week of placebos that’ll bring on your period.

Progestin-only:

Better known as the mini-pill, these have no estrogen in them and are often prescribed if you’re sensitive to combination pills and are having side effects. They release a small amount of progestin every day of the month and don’t give you a period during a set week.

Fewer periods.

Some pills allow you to skip your period altogether. Consider the possibilities!

Predictable periods.

If you’re the type of gal who feels comforted by getting your period every month, then this just might be the choice for you.

Skipping Aunt Flo.

Some pills allow you to skip your period altogether, which by the way, is totally safe. (And sounds pretty awesome!)

The pregnancy question.

You will return to fertility, which means you go back to being able to get pregnant, a few days after stopping the pill. So if you don’t want to get pregnant right away, make sure you start using an alternate birth control method as soon as you stop this one.

It takes discipline.

You have to remember to take your pill at the same time every day. Even on weekends. Even on vacation. So ask yourself: How good are you with stuff like that?

If you can swallow an aspirin, you can take the pill. But here’s the thing: You have to remember to take it every day, at roughly the same time, no matter what.

Some pills come in 21-day packs. Others come in 28-day packs. Some give you a regular period every month. Others let you have your period once every three months. And some even let you skip your period for an entire year. There are so many different pills available, it can be confusing. A health care provider or clinic can help you figure out which pill is right for you.

Tips and tricks

  • Try taking your pill at the same time you always do something else in your daily routine, like brushing your teeth.
  • Set up a free text message or email reminder.
  • Have a box of emergency contraception on hand. This way, if you forget your pill sometime during the month and have sex without a condom or other barrier method, you’re protected against an accidental pregnancy.

This method may be free or low-cost for you!

  • With Medicaid – Free!
  • With insurance – Free under most plans.
  • Without insurance – Many clinics offer this method for free or at a very low cost.

You might still need condoms.

Because the pill is a great pregnancy protector, some people drop condoms too soon. Remember— the pill doesn’t offer STI protection. Only stop using condoms after you and your partner have been tested and have talked about your STI statuses.

There are positive and negative things to say about each and every birth control method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friends experience.

The Positive

  • Easy to use—just swallow with water
  • Doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment
  • Might give you lighter periods
  • Gives you control over when you have your period
  • Some pills clear up acne
  • Can reduce menstrual cramps and PMS
  • Some pills offer protection against nasty health problems like endometrial and ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia, ovarian cysts and pelvic inflammatory disease

The Negative*

Symptoms that will probably go away after two or three months:

  • Bleeding in between periods
  • Sore breasts
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms that may last longer:

  • Change in sex drive

If you still feel uncomfortable after three months, switch methods and stay protected. You’re worth it.

 

*For a very small number of women, there are risks of more serious side effects.

Don’t take our word for it. Check out the videos below to hear women and men talk about their experiences with the pill. And be sure to ask your health care provider which method is best for you.

Monique, 26, the pill

Mandi, 21, the pill

Jane, 27, the pill

Elliot, 24, the pill

Expert dirt: “So popular it just goes by one name—‘the pill’! They’re awesome, but don’t be afraid to explore other methods like the IUD or Implant—especially if you have trouble getting the pill or remembering to take it.”