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What is the best birth control for me?

Updated on December 15, 2013
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Best Birth Control?

For many women, the cost of birth control is well worth the expense if she's not ready to have children. I fall into that category: I'm married, but my husband and I just aren't ready to start a family yet. So what's a girl to do? Not having sex just ain't an option. :) The pill is by no means a perfect solution, but don't give up if you haven't found one that works for you.

I've struggled to find a pill that doesn't make me crazily moody, depressed and anxious about everything. I know it's the hormones because I've tried stopping, and within a week I'm back to my usual (mostly) positive self. I'm not a medical expert, but I've done plenty of my own research to try to figure out a hormone combination that will work for me.

Here are some tips from about three years of personal experience and many conversations with women's health professionals:

  • First and most importantly, DON'T settle for a pill if you don't feel "normal" when you're taking it.
  • There are hundreds (probably thousands) of pills out there, and all of them have slightly different combinations of progestin and estrogen.
  • It's important to remember one key thing when researching pills: Estrogen type is always the same (ethinyl estradiol), but it will be found in varying amounts. Progestin type can be one of eight different formulations, all at varying amounts. So if you do the math (and I'm a journalist, so I won't go there) there's virtually a limitless number of combinations that can be made into pills. An excellent breakdown of progestins can be found here: http://contraception.about.com/od/thepill/tp/ProgestinTypes.htm
  • Talk to your doctor if you aren't happy with your birth control, no matter how embarrassed you may be. Trust me, they've heard it all, and any legitimate doctor will want what's best for his or her patient. I once had an M.D. in gynecology tell me that the pill doesn't cause depression. Apparently she had never read any leaflet that came with any pill she ever prescribed, as it's one of the most common side effects. She tried to tell me that my boyfriend (now husband) was the source of my depression. I didn't go back to that doctor.
  • Another great resource I found is a website with charts listing hormones levels and side effects. (http://www.wdxcyber.com/ncontr13.htm) The side-effect chart offers suggestions for pills to try based on side effects you experience personally. Headaches? Bad acne? Weight gain? Moodiness? Of course every woman reacts differently to each pill, but there is a complicated science behind our body chemistry and the androgenic and estrogenic effects each pill inflicts upon us.
  • Ask your doctor for samples. They usually have at least one type for you to try without paying for an entire month of pills. Many women (including me) know within a few days if a particular pill causes emotional changes. If your mood or behavior changes, talk to your doctor. Sometimes it can take a while for your body to adjust to different hormones, but there's no reason to be unhappy or moody ALL THE TIME, even when starting a new pill. If you are, your body doesn't like that combination.

The bottom line: There's no such thing as a "best" pill on the market. The best one is the one that you can take with the least amount of side effects. You may have to try three, five, 10, even 50 different pills to find one you're happy with. Don't settle for the cheapest -- your quality of life and happiness are too important.

If you can't find a good pill...

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