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This page was medically reviewed by Ms Laurenmarie Cormier, Nurse Practitioner on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.
We offer 4 types of Birth control
Contraceptive patch

Birth control patch

Skin plaster that works just like the combined pill. Slow releases hormones into the body that prevent pregnancy.

Contraceptive ring

Birth control ring

Small round piece of plastic that you insert into the vagina once a month, and works just like the pill.

Combined pills

Combined pill

Pregnancy protection. Help with PMS. Find the birth control pill that works best for you.


Mini pills

The pill, but without oestrogen. Better option if you get migraines or side effects on combined birth control.

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Mr Paul Zemlak

Pharmacy Registrar and Clinical Prescriber
Mr Paul Zemlak

Registered with ACP (No. 2382)

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Dr Daniel Atkinson

GP Clinical lead
Dr. Daniel

Registered with GMC (No. 4624794)

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Ms Laurenmarie Cormier

Nurse Practitioner
Ms Laurenmarie Cormier

Registered with NPI (No. 1700446366)

Meet Laurenmarie  

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Further reading

All the info related to Birth control you could ever need.
Take a look at our health guides.

Which birth control pill is best for acne?

Which birth control pill is best for acne?

On this page we’ll discuss which pills may be beneficial for your skin and acne symptoms, which aren’t and what to do if you take a pill that makes your skin worse.

Read more  
What happens when you stop taking the pill?

What happens when you stop taking the pill?

Saying goodbye to a daily habit is always a big change, but knowing what to expect can help make coming off the pill a worry-free experience.

Read more  
What to do about late or missed pills

What to do about late or missed pills

First, don’t worry. It happens to everyone, and it’s simple to get back on track. Here we’ll go over some basic guidelines for what to do if you’ve missed a pill and address the rules for some of the most popular contraception brands.

Read more  

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.

What is birth control?

In a nutshell, birth control reduces your risk of getting pregnant. Certain types of hormonal birth control also have the added benefit of reducing some of the uncomfortable symptoms you may get around your period, and can make your period lighter and more regular.

You can take birth control for as long as you want to. Or you can switch methods or stop using it if you want to have a child. Some types of hormonal birth control are better for specific health issues or age ranges. So it’s good to check in with your clinician every now and then to make sure your birth control is still right for you.

Hormonal contraception is only available by prescription in the US. Our clinical team will help you narrow down the best option because there are quite a few out there, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of deal.

What types of birth control are there?

There are four types of hormonal birth control that you take by yourself, and a few others where you’ll need a bit of guidance from a clinician or nurse before you use them.

At Treated, we carry both the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), which contains progestin and estrogen, and the progestin-only pill (POP), also called the mini pill. Pills need to be taken every day at around the same time to be most effective.

We also have the patch, which is applied to the skin like a sticker and changed once a week, and the vaginal ring, which is inserted once a month.

Other types of birth control include the depo shot, the IUD (hormonal and non-hormonal) and the implant. You can’t use those without a clinician or nurse though so we don’t offer them. There are also condoms, female condoms and the diaphragm, which you can get at a pharmacy and are great back-up options if you’re ever worried about your protection.

Which birth control is best?

It depends on you, really. If you like the security of taking something every day and knowing you’re protected, we recommend the combined pill or mini pill. If you’d like a more low-maintenance option, the weekly patch may be better. And if convenience is your thing, the monthly ring might be the way to go.

Formulations make a difference too. Some women prefer pills with a higher estrogen dose, because it helps them with symptoms like vaginal dryness or low sex drive. Others prefer a lower estrogen dose, because they’ll be less likely to get water retention or heavy periods.

The progestin-only pill is good for women who can’t take estrogen because of health factors, or who are breastfeeding.

So it’s very much a case of personal preference, and your health background. But we can talk you through all your options.

Reference Popover #ref1
Reference Popover #ref2
Medically reviewed by
Ms Laurenmarie Cormier
Nurse Practitioner
on August 02, 2022.
Meet Laurenmarie  
This page was medically reviewed by Ms Laurenmarie Cormier, Nurse Practitioner on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

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When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.

How effective is hormonal birth control?

All four of the main types of hormonal birth control (combined pill, mini pill, patch and ring) are over 99% effective when they’re used exactly right. That’s what clinicians call “perfect use.” This 99% effectiveness means that if 100 women use one of these types of birth control for one year, fewer than one will get pregnant.

“Typical” use is a bit less perfect and a lot more realistic. If you use contraception but make occasional mistakes, like forgetting a pill or putting a patch on too late, the effectiveness drops to between 91% and 94%. That means that six to nine women out of a hundred would become pregnant over the course of a year.

The best way to make sure your birth control is as effective as possible is to take it exactly as directed, which is why it’s important to find the method that works best with your lifestyle.

What does birth control do?

Hormonal birth control reduces your chances of pregnancy by changing the normal hormonal cycle in your body. It prevents ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg into your uterus.

The hormones in birth control also keep the walls of your uterus from growing thicker with your cycle. When the uterine wall is thin, it’s more difficult for an egg to attach to it and grow.

The progestin in hormonal birth control also changes the thickness of cervical fluid. This time, the hormones make it thicker. And sperm have a harder time making it through to an egg as a result.

Reference Popover #ref4

What forms of birth control are available?

There’s the combined pill, which usually comes in a pack of 28 pills, though some brands may vary slightly. The first three weeks are active pills, which contain hormones, and the last week of pills is hormone free — that’s when you’ll get your period. This is the most widely used type of hormonal birth control. It’s called the combined pill because it contains two hormones: progestin and estrogen.

The patch is a combined treatment too, but instead of taking it orally you stick it on your skin like a sticker. Don’t worry – it’s designed to be worn through showers and even swimming without coming off. For three weeks a month, you’ll wear the patch for a week and then change it. Then you take a weeklong patch-free break, after which you put on a new patch and the cycle is repeated again.

The vaginal ring is also a combined method of birth control. It’s a soft, flexible piece of plastic that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks. Then you remove it, take a weeklong ring-free break and insert your next ring.

Progestin-only pills, also called mini pills, are taken once a day. They’re different from combined options because they only carry one hormone, progestin. Progestin-only pills are recommended for women who may experience side effects when taking estrogen.

What about contraceptive injections and contraceptive implants?

Several birth control options need to be injected, inserted or administered by a doctor. These include the birth control shot, which is a progestin-only injection given in the arm. Depo-Provera is a popular brand of the contraceptive shot. There’s also a contraceptive implant (Nexplanon is one) that’s placed into the arm.

The IUD, which stands for intrauterine device, is inserted into the vagina by a doctor or gynecologist and left in place for multiple years. There’s a hormone-free copper version (usually just called the copper IUD) and hormonal versions which are made of plastic, like the Mirena.

And we all know the condom and the diaphragm. These are called “barrier methods,” because they physically stop sperm from reaching an egg to fertilize it.

Birth control: FAQ

Have something specific you want to know? Search our info below, or ask our experts a question if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

What are the side effects of contraceptives?

Side effects can vary depending on the type of birth control you’re using. Irregular bleeding is quite common when you first start using a new birth control, but it normally stabilizes after a couple of months.

Other common side effects are tiredness, mood swings, vaginal dryness or changes in sex drive. If you experience these side effects and they’re not going away on their own, drop our clinician a message and they can help you find a different birth control.

On rare occasions, hormonal birth control can cause serious side effects. You should seek urgent medical attention if you get any breast lumps, persistent heavy bleeding, symptoms of an allergic reaction, symptoms of a blood clot such as a tight chest or tenderness in the back of the leg, jaundice or anything else that concerns you. Read the package insert that comes with your birth control for more information on side effects and when to get help.

What is low-dose birth control?

There are different concentrations of hormones in birth control pills, rings and patches. Higher doses can help control symptoms like acne, while lower doses come with fewer possible side effects.

There’s no difference between higher and lower doses in terms of contraceptive effectiveness. They’re equally good at preventing pregnancy. Whether you should take a higher or lower dose has more to do with what added benefits you’d like in your birth control and if you’re sensitive to hormones.

Some pills have ‘Lo’ versions, which are a great alternative for women who tried the regular version and experienced side effects. Loestrin and Lo Loestrin are an example. In some cases, though, low-dose pills have completely different names than the regular versions. This happens even with pills made by the same manufacturer.

If you’re not sure which type of birth control is the best option for you, our clinician will be able to help you choose.

Can you take birth control for acne?

Some pills can be effective at reducing acne in addition to preventing pregnancy. The specific pills that excel at this usually have a high concentration of hormones, meaning they increase the risk of side effects and aren’t right for everyone. Our clinician can advise you on whether a pill that can help with acne is a good choice for you.

Can you take birth control to stop periods?

Yes. Women who take the progestin-only pill often find that their periods stop or become much lighter. Sometimes this happens with the combined pill, too. Aviane, Levora and Lutera are less likely to cause heavy periods than other pills. The ring and the patch can also help reduce heavy periods.

If you’re looking to lighten your periods with hormonal birth control, let our clinician know during your consultation.

What’s the difference between birth control and plan B?

Emergency contraception and the birth control pill both contain hormones, but the two are not interchangeable.

The pill, patch and ring, as well as condoms, are primary contraceptives — they’re your Plan A. If your birth control ever fails for any reason, one option is emergency contraception, which is also known as the morning-after pill. Plan B One-Step is a brand of emergency contraception but its name is often used to refer to emergency contraception in general, like how we say Kleenex to mean any sort of tissue.

If a condom falls off during sex or you forget to take a pill and then have unprotected sex, emergency contraception can help you stay protected. It’s available over the counter, without a prescription. And even though it’s called a morning-after pill, you don’t need to wait until the morning to take it. In fact, it should be taken as soon as possible after sex to prevent pregnancy, though up to 72 hours can be OK.

You shouldn’t use emergency contraception if you think you’re already pregnant. In that case, call your doctor, gynecologist or sexual health clinic to discuss your options.

Can you get non-hormonal birth control?

Yes. Condoms, diaphragms and female condoms don’t contain any hormones. They’re called “barrier methods” because they physically block sperm. There’s also a type of IUD called a copper IUD which doesn’t contain any hormones.

Currently, there aren’t any hormone-free pills you can take to prevent pregnancy.

Is there a male birth control pill?

Not yet. Male hormonal contraception is still in the clinical research phase. While recent trials of a contraceptive gel are promising, there isn’t currently anything on the market. Men who want to take their reproductive health into their own hands should use condoms or consider a vasectomy, which in some cases can even be reversible.

Why should I buy birth control online with Treated?

We’re making birth control easy. Tell us about your health, and our clinicians will advise you on suitable and safe contraceptive options for you. Choose the one you want and we’ll prescribe your birth control.

And if you want us to deliver your birth control on your schedule, in the quantity you’d like, we’ll do that too.

Our clinicians will get in touch with you on a regular basis to find out how you’re getting on with your contraception. So if there’s anything you’d like to know about your treatment, or if there’s any adjustments you’d like us to make to your birth control, they’ll be on hand.

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