So you’re in your appointment at Bridgercare, and you’ve decided that you want to use the birth control pill. They’re affordable, safe and effective (as long you take them every day at the same time). However, birth control pills aren’t all the same, so how do you and your provider decide which pill is the best option for you?

There are hundreds of birth control pills out there, considering of all the variations, brands, and generic versions. Bridgercare carries five- Sprintec, Apri, Orsythia, Junel, and Ortho Micronor. While that may sound overwhelming, most pills are very similar. Most birth control pills are combined oral contraceptives, called COCs. These pills include a combination of two hormones, estrogen and progestin. They prevent pregnancy primarily by suppressing ovulation, which means your ovaries won’t release an egg for sperm to fertilize. COCs are differentiated by the amount of each hormone and the type of progestin in each pill, and there are lots of different combinations available.

Most people won’t notice a difference between the different kinds of COCs. However, some COCs have been shown to be more effective at lessening acne, heavy bleeding, or painful cramping. Specific concerns like these can help guide you and your provider in deciding which COC could be the most helpful.

Another type of oral contraceptives is the progestin-only pill (POP). These pills, often called the “minipill,” contain only the hormone progestin. POPs prevent pregnancy primarily by thickening the cervical mucous, which acts as a barrier between sperm and the egg. These work well for people who have a medical reason they shouldn’t take estrogen, such as someone who has just given birth.

“The pill” was approved by the FDA as the first kind of hormonal birth control in 1960, and remains the most popular form of contraception today; approximately 25% of people in the United States currently use it as their birth control method. If you’re interested in trying the pill or potentially switching your method, Bridgercare’s providers can help you figure out the best fit for your body, your emotional health, and your lifestyle.