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Effectiveness of Lowest Dose Birth Control Pills


There are great advantages to taking low dose birth control pills. The difference between them and traditional dosage birth control pills, in their effectiveness, and who would choose a lower dose birth control pill over a regular oral contraceptive and why are all questions a woman may want to look at.

How Do Lower Dose Birth Control Pills Differ

Lower dose birth control pills contain less estrogen than regular birth control pills. Lower dose birth control pills, also called very-low-dose birth control pills, contain as little as 20 micrograms of estrogen, as opposed to 30 through 50 micrograms in most birth control pills. Because of this lower dosage, the low dose pill not only acts as a contraceptive, but also makes the menstrual periods more regular and predictable, and reduces menstrual cramps and the risk for more serious conditions like ovarian and uterine cancer, ectopic pregnancy, some infections and inflammatory diseases that could result from use of the higher doses found in most birth control pills.

Is There Any Difference in Effectiveness?

The low dose birth control pills are just as effective in preventing pregnancy as the regular dose pills, because the progestin doses are still the same. The only difference is the amount of estrogen in the pills. The levels of progestin during the different parts of the cycle are what affect the ovulation and implantation of the egg. Generally, the dosing of the low dose versions of any particular type of birth control pill is the same as its regular counterpart.

Who Would Choose a Lower Dose Birth Control Pill?

A woman in her 40’s or 50’s who is going through perimenopause that wants to avoid getting pregnant may want to take a lower dose birth control pill rather than a regular dose birth control pill. If a woman is going through perimenopause, she may be less fertile but she is still able to get pregnant if she is still having any menses at all within the past 12 months. A woman old enough to be going through perimenopause but taking regular oral contraception may be advised to switch to a low dose birth control pill until she is definitely menopausal and hormone replacement is warranted. Also, any woman who is concerned about the side effects and risks of the traditional dosage birth control pills may choose the lower dose birth control pill instead.

Why Would One Choose a Lower Dose Birth Control Pill?

Women would choose a lower dose birth control pill rather than a traditional dose because they are undergoing a time in her life when there are a lot of hormonal changes going on already, such as menopause. She may want to take a lower dose birth control pill so that her symptoms of menopause are not made worse by the further unbalancing of the hormones estrogen and progesterone toward estrogen dominance and low progesterone characteristic of perimenopause. Also, the side effects of low dose birth control pills are less prone to cause the side effects that result from estrogen dominance, which are the hot flashes, headaches, and other symptoms associated with menopause and premenstrual syndrome. If the side effects from the hormone levels of a regular birth control pill become unmanageable, the dose may be too much for the individual, and a switch to the lower dose birth control pills may help with these side effects.



“Getting Started with a Birth Control Prescription –” The Pill, Low Dose Birth Control – N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2010.

“Perimenopausal Women and the Use of Very-Low-Dose Birth Control Pills —” Health information for the whole family — N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2010.

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