Birth Control Pill Brands: What are the Major Brands of Birth Control Pills?
Birth control pills, also known as oral contraceptives or “the pill,” are one of the most common forms of birth control. Birth control pills have been studied for over 50 years, and were approved by the FDA for contraceptive use in 1960. Since then, the pill has become one of the most convenient, popular, and accessible methods of birth control. With proper and consistent use, they are 91% effective in preventing pregnancy. Learning more about how the various birth control pill brands can help you make the best decision for your body.
How do Birth Control Pills Work?
There are dozens of birth control pills brands available with a prescription from a healthcare provider. All birth control pills contain varying levels of hormones, which are released into a woman’s body to prevent pregnancy. The main functions of the hormones in birth control pills are to halt ovulation, which prevents the release of an egg, and to thicken the mucus surrounding the cervix, which keeps sperm cells from reaching the eggs. Birth control pills work by minimizing the chances of fertilization, which thus reduce the risk of pregnancy.
No brand of birth control pills protects against sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), and thus you should use an appropriate barrier form of birth control (such as female or male condoms) to protect yourself against the spread of infections and diseases.
The most common side effects of birth control pills are:
- Breast tenderness
- Spotting/Light, bleeding not during a menstrual cycle
- Temporary Weight Gain
*If these symptoms persist for more than one to two months, contact your physician.
Birth control pills are taken on a daily basis to ensure the consistent release of hormones. Birth control pills are most effective when taken at the same time every day. Missing a day decreases the efficacy of the pill, and thus increases your chances of becoming pregnant. To know which pill is right for you, it is important to understand how the various types of birth control pills are designed to interact with your body.
What is the Best Brand of Birth Control Pill?
With so many different brands of birth control pills to choose from, it is daunting to choose the best birth control pill brand for you.
First, it is important to know the different types of birth control pills.
Types of Birth Control Pills
There are two main types of birth control pills:
- Combination pills
- Progestin-only or “minipills”
Combination pills contain both of the hormones progestin and estrogen. This variety of birth control pills is the most common and is available in three main forms:
- 28-day packs – 21 “active” pills (contain hormones) and 7 “inactive” or sugar pills (do not contain hormones)
- 21-day packs – all “active” pills (contain hormones)
- Extended cycle packs – usually contain 84 “active” pills and 7 “inactive” pills
The levels of hormones contained in these pills vary throughout the month to help your body prevent pregnancy most effectively.
Combination Pill Birth Control Pill Brands
Familiarizing yourself with common names of birth control pills can help you have an educated approach to your treatment when you go to discuss birth control pill brands with your doctor.
The most common combination pill birth control pill brands are:
- Aubra Birth Control – 28-day pack, known to help regulate bleeding, can be used as emergency contraceptive (contact your doctor for details).
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen – 28-day pack, very common brand, used to treat severe acne in women.
- Mylan Birth Control – 84-day pack (four periods per year), generic brand of Ortho Tri-Cyclen (may be more affordable). See end of article for explanation of generic and brand name birth control pills.
- YAZ Birth Control – 28-day pack (24 active, 4 inactive pills), also prescribed to treat acne.
- Loryna Birth Control – 28-day pack, generic version of YAZ.
- Chateal Birth Control – 28-day pack, prescribed for women who experience intense symptoms of PMS.
- Sprintec Birth Control – 28-day pack, can alleviate emotional symptoms of PMS.
- Apri Birth Control – 28-day pack, can help treat acne, symptoms associated with PMS.
- Trinessa Birth Control – 28-day pack, used to treat acne and regulate periods.
- Yasmin Birth Control – 28-day pack, reduces bloating associated with menstrual cycle, can help with symptoms of PMS.
- Junel Birth Control 28-day pack, used to regulate timing of periods.
- Lutera Birth Control – 28-day pack, can also be used for emergency contraception (contact your doctor for information).
- Aviane Birth Control – 28-day pack, sometimes used as emergency contraceptive.
Side effects of combination birth control pills vary from brand to brand. For more information on these birth control pill brands, contact your doctor.
Progestin-Only or “Minipills”
Progestin-only birth control pills may be more effective for women whose bodies do not react well to estrogen. The only active ingredient in minipills is noroethindrone (a type of the hormone progestin), and works similarly to the combination of hormones in the birth control pills described above. These pills, like their combination counterparts, are designed to thicken the mucus lining of the cervix, thus preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. However, Progestin-only contraceptive pills are less effective in stopping ovulation, which slightly increases the risk of becoming pregnant.
Minipills are recommended for women who struggle with abnormally heavy menstrual flows, are anemic, or who would like a temporary birth control method (minipills are very easily reversible because progestin metabolizes quickly in a woman’s body).
Depending on the type of minipill your doctor prescribes, your period may be longer or shorter than normal, or may stop completely. If you experience a heavy menstrual flow for more than a week, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Progestin-Only or Minipill Birth Control Brands
The following are common birth control pills names of minipills, and all come in 28-day packs:
- Camila Birth Control – does not contain estrogen, recommended for women seeking a low dosage birth control.
- Errin Birth Control – recommended especially for women who are anemic.
- Norethindrone Birth Control – generic version (typically more affordable than brand name variety).
- Heather Birth Control – very low dose of progestin.
- Nor-Q Birth Control – brand name version of Norethindrone, used to treat endometriosis.
- Micronor (Noroethindrone) Birth Control – very common brand of norethindrone, readily available with prescription.
What are Generic Brands of Birth Control Pills?
With both combination pills and minipills, the birth control pill brands list is extremely long. This means that not only are there many variations of pills, but even within each type of pill, there can be different brands. For example, Noroethindrone is the name of the generic brand of minipill. This means that FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has approved this drug, and it usually cheaper than its brand name counterparts. Both Nor-Q and Micronor are brand name examples of Noroethindrone.
In the case of combination birth control pills, the birth control pills’ names can also be confusing. One of the most common generic forms of combination birth control is a mix of hormones called “ethinyl estradiol” and “norgestimate.” (You can see why they change the name). Ortho Tri-Cyclen is one of the most affordable brand name versions of this mixture, and is just as effective as the base forms of the drug.
Another common generic name is Levonorgestrel, which is a hormone ingredient used in several combination birth control pills. Levonorgestrel is most commonly used in emergency contraception pills, which is why some of the combination pills listed above can be used for this purpose. Before using a combination birth control pill for emergency contraception, consult your doctor for specific instructions.
There are usually minimal differences in effectiveness between generic and brand name pills. Most of the time, the only notable difference is the actual birth control pill names.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees free access of most generic birth control pills for women with health insurance. This is tricky because although many methods of birth control are covered under the ACA, all brands may not be. If you change birth control pill brands, you may notice all of a sudden that your costs increase. This could be because the specific brand of birth control you are taking is not covered by the ACA or your insurance package. When you speak to your doctor about birth control pill names, keep this information in mind, as it may help you save money on your monthly birth control pills.
Where Can I Buy Birth Control Pills Online?
Most birth control pill brands are available for purchase online. Sites such as PlushCare offer online communication with doctors who can walk you through your birth control options. The doctor will then prescribe you a birth control pill that you can pick up at your convenience at your local healthcare facility or pharmacy. These apps will work with most major healthcare providers and some government assistant programs. It is important to consult with a licensed professional before you change your birth control method or brand.
To ensure the effectiveness of your preferred method and brand of birth control pills, make sure you remain consistent with your regimen and contact your doctor if you feel that a change of birth control would better fit your body or lifestyle.
How PlushCare Works
In today’s age of unpredictable waiting rooms and swamped doctors, online services like PlushCare save you time and stress. All of our visits with patients are confidential and convenient and require as little as a phone or video consultation.
We are able to help with various concerns, including birth control, and work with local pharmacies to make sure you get your prescription quickly and efficiently. Our team of medical professionals has extensive experience consulting with patients about their birth control options, including starting and prescribing birth control pills, changing birth control methods, and understanding how birth control interacts with your body. Book an appointment with a PlushCare here.
Read more in our Birth Control series: