Perhaps the side effects of birth control pills you currently take are too inconvenient or distressing, and you want to try another type. Or, maybe you’ve just become sexually active again, and are interested in trying a different brand.
In either case, you deserve to know the best birth control pill brands, and where to get them. Our favorite telehealth providers for buying birth control pills online are Hers, Medzino, and Nurx, thanks to their variety and partnership with physicians.
Best Birth Control Pill Brands
- Hers – Best birth control for acne
- Medzino – Best birth control pills for weight loss
- Nurx – Best birth control pills with least side effects
The best birth control pills are different for every woman, as it is essential to balance efficacy with minimal to no side effects. That’s why we’ve chosen three affordable telehealth services providing a range of options, with varying types of hormonal medication and dosages.
Best Birth Control Pill Brands: How Do They Work?
Birth control pills, also known as contraceptive pills, are primarily used to prevent pregnancy. Around one-quarter of American women aged 15 to 44 use oral contraception, making it the most widely-used category of birth control.
Other uses include reducing the severity of period pain, endometriosis, PMS, heavy menstruation, acne, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and a deficiency of female sex hormones . Unlike condoms, they cannot prevent STDs.
Combination pills can allow you to do something many women dream of: stopping your period, or at least making it arrive less often. Cyclic formulations may be the exception, with 4-7 placebo pills in each month’s cycle to bring on menstruation. During a natural cycle, estrogen and progesterone drop to allow the uterine lining to break down.
Extended cycle formulations are like taking an extended vacation. With these, the hormone-free pills are included for several days every three months. Continuous-use formulations don’t have any hormone-free days, and you can alter your prescription to skip placebo pills in many cases. Some women may experience breakthrough bleeds, however .
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What Types of Birth Control Pill Are Available on the Market?
There are three main types of birth control pill. They may contain only estrogen or progesterone, or a combination of both.
Combined Birth Control Pills (Progesterone + Estrogen)
Combination pills are the most common types of birth control pill. They contain both estrogen and progesterone, covering all of your proverbial bases.
Estrogen and progesterone each have their own roles to play. Estrogen mainly inhibits the development of immature egg cells before ovulation can occur. When your body senses a rise in estrogen, it reduces follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) to prevent excessive estrogen levels. This has the (wanted) side effect of impairing egg development .
Mini Birth Control Pills (Progestin-Only Birth Control Pills)
Many women find that the best birth control pill brands are progestin-only “mini pills”. They often have fewer or milder side effects, and progesterone’s many contraceptive benefits mean that it’s all you may need.
Progesterone seems to be the star ingredient. Typically taken as synthetic progestins, these prevent ovulation by suppressing FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH). You don’t ovulate with both LH and FSH’s actions prevented. Even better, progesterone makes your cervical mucus hostile to sperm and causes atrophy of the uterine lining, inhibiting embryo implantation .
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Best Birth Control Pills Online – What Is the Most Effective Pill for Birth Control?
The best birth control pill brands are effective, safe, and accessible. Our top three picks for accessing birth control pills online are Hers, Medzino, and Nurx.
Hers – Best Birth Control for Acne
Hers stocks the best birth control for acne. If you’re embarrassed about your acne and want an affordable way to buy birth control pills online, try the Hers telehealth service. With a range of sexual health, primary health, and skin care products available, Hers can fulfill many of your health needs.
Who Should Try Hers?
Hers stocks several of the best birth control pill brands that contain the combinations of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol (EE/NGM), and ethinyl estradiol with desogestrel (EE/DSG).
Research suggests that these formulas are more effective in reducing acne and oily skin than others. One study of over 200 women found a 74.4% decrease in acne for EE/NGM pills, and 65.5% for the EE/DSG preparation. The EE/NGM combination pill was also more effective in reducing oiliness than EE/DSG .
Ethinyl estradiol has anti-testosterone effects, reducing the development of acne. Norgestimate and desogestrel are newer-generation progestins with far less ability to stimulate testosterone receptors than older progestins. This makes their formulations the best birth control pill brands for women with PCOS, which features high testosterone.
Better yet, EE/NGM formulations are triphasic. With three different doses across each month, they mimic a natural menstrual cycle more closely instead of being more likely to over- or under-stimulate your hormone receptors .
Pros of Using Hers
- Affordable prescriptions from just $12 per month
- Online telehealth service replaces the hassle of errands with a convenient way to buy birth control pills online
- Developed by expert OB/GYNs
Cons of Using Hers
- Getting birth control pills online may mean missing signs of serious conditions during the short consultation
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Medzino – Best Birth Control Pills for Weight Loss
Medzino also sells a range of the best birth control pill brands, including those that do not contribute to weight gain. This telehealth service provides a range of medications for relatively benign conditions such as migraine and eczema, saving you even more time.
Who Should Try Medzino?
Medzino is the best site to buy birth control pills online if you are tired of experiencing weight gain from taking your current brand. They offer both progestin-only minipills and low-estrogen combination pills.
The best birth control pill for weight loss is one that contains little or no estrogen. Although weight gain is considered one of the side effects of birth control pills, the vast majority of this is in fact fluid retention. You are less likely to experience this if you choose a minipill or low-estrogen option .
Even if you don’t take hormonal birth control, you may still benefit from Medzino’s best birth control pill brands if you suffer from severe PMS. An imbalance between estrogen and progesterone can persist anywhere between a few days before your period to the two or more weeks between ovulation and menstruation, leading to fluid retention.
Although modern formulations usually only cause fluid retention, older versions of the pill contained even more estrogen, and so did cause an increase in body fat. Trivora, one option that Medzino provides, is triphasic, meaning you have even less chance of taking too much estrogen.
Pros of Using Medzino
- Explains ingredients under the birth control pill names, including fillers and additives
- Convenient, two-minute telehealth consultation with a real physician reviewing your answers
- Lists contraindications on the medications’ information pages
Cons of Using Medzino
- The online consultation consists of a two-minute quiz, which may not capture all serious concerns that rule out buying birth control pills online
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Nurx – Best Birth Control Pills with Least Side Effects
Nurx is a telehealth provider that supplies the best birth control pill brands online, alongside other types of contraception, sexual health products, skincare, and more.
Who Should Try Nurx?
Thanks to the diverse types of birth control pills available, you’re almost certain to find one with little to no side effects. As teenage girls have greater ovarian reserves, pills with minimal or no adverse effects are the best birth control for teens because they increase medication adherence.
Some of the best birth control pill brands contain drospirenone as the synthetic progesterone, which has a diuretic effect. If you’re prone to fluid retention or bloating, this could help you avoid or reduce both the severity of PMS and the side effects of birth control pills. It’s also recommended for women who experience breast tenderness or swelling .
In cases of nausea and headache, or if you are still sensitive enough to experience true weight gain (body fat), Nurx has the progestin-only Errin. By thickening the vaginal fluid and altering your uterine lining, it can make conception and egg implantation too difficult for pregnancy to establish. The low-estrogen options can prevent these and other side effects, too.
As for breakthrough bleeding, increasing your ethinyl estradiol dose to 35 micrograms will likely be effective. This and the prevention of menstruation by continuing to take the pill throughout the month are made safer by the range of options you have, allowing you to tailor your medication .
Pros of Using Nurx
- Accepts health insurance, so it doesn’t matter if your budget is still too tight to afford $20 a month.
- You can buy over a dozen different birth control pills online
- Morning-after pills are available in a judgment-free space
Cons of Using Nurx
- You cannot buy birth control pills online in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Vermont, or West Virginia.
>>Check the best prices for Nurx<<
How Effective Are the Best Types of Birth Control Pill?
The success rates of all types of birth control pill, alongside other contraceptive methods, is measured as “perfect” and “typical” use. Perfect use of contraceptive pills is over 99% effective, but you have to consistently use it with no mistakes. Typical use is 91% effective, meaning 9% of women will still get pregnant every year, usually from human error .
It’s important to remember that not even the best birth control pill brands will be effective in the first week. You must use another form of contraception, such as condoms, for at least the first seven days. They are also less effective if you take doses more than 24 hours apart. For example, taking today’s dose in the morning and tomorrow’s at 6 pm won’t do you any favors .
Combined types of birth control pill may have additional long-term benefits. Powerful evidence points to a 50% reduction in the risk of endometrial cancer, which lasts for over 20 years after you stop taking them. You can also enjoy a 27% lower risk of ovarian cancer. This figure is an average; with longer periods of use, your risk keeps falling .
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Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
There are many possible short- and long-term side effects of birth control pills. You may not experience any of these, or you may have differing degrees of severity compared to other women taking the same types of birth control pill.
Short-Term Side Effects
Short-term side effects of birth control pills may resolve after several months, or quickly after switching pills.
The most common short-term effects include:
- Breast tenderness
- Fluid retention, which appears to be weight gain
- Breakthrough bleeding
- Infertility; once you stop taking birth control pills and this becomes a side effect, it usually takes up to two weeks for your normal menstrual cycle to return .
Despite popular belief, there is inconclusive evidence that a loss or change in libido is among the side effects of birth control pills.
Long-Term Side Effects
Some long-term side effects of birth control pills are rarely seen today, thanks to less potent but still effective formulations.
Combined contraceptive pills may increase your risk of blood clots. These can cause a stroke, heart attack, or deep vein thrombosis depending on where they are lodged. They are rarer now with the introduction of low-dose estrogen (30 micrograms or less of ethinyl estradiol), however.
The cancer-preventing effects we mentioned above are positive side effects. If you’re at a higher risk of developing these types of cancer because of family history or other factors, they may be even more relevant. Other positive side effects of birth control pills center around the atrophy of the uterine lining, leading to reduced severity of endometriosis and menstrual problems .
Whether or not stopping your period through continuous dosing leads to the thickening of the uterine lining is debatable. As one of the potentially dangerous side effects of birth control pills, many women decide to continue menstruating. On the other hand, modern women have more menstrual periods (around 450) than women in ancient times (around 160) .
Because earlier and more frequent pregnancies, alongside extended breastfeeding, made menstruation less common, stopping your period may be safe for most women. We do not recommend this if you already experience side effects of birth control pills.
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Alternative Approaches to Using the Best Birth Control Pill Brands
If the typical failure rate or side effects of birth control pills are concerns for you, there are other methods available. They range from pills for daily use to permanent contraception.
Switching between Types of Birth Control Pill
If the side effects of birth control pills you currently take are too unpleasant or distressing, you may find success with a different brand. Mini pills and specific forms of estrogen or progesterone are linked with fewer adverse effects, which is why they make up many of our best birth control pill brands.
Condoms are the only type of contraception that can protect against STDs, which not even the best birth control pill brands are capable of. On the other hand, they are only single-use for each time you have sex, and they require your partner to be cooperative. The failure (pregnancy) rate of condoms is 2% with perfect use, and 18% with typical use, which is quite low.
Diaphragms, usually used with spermicide, have a 6% failure rate with perfect use and a 12% pregnancy rate in ideal circumstances. They can be irritating, and increase your risk of urinary tract infections .
The vaginal ring is also sold by some telehealth providers of the best birth control pill brands. Their main advantage is that you remove your old ring to insert a new one every month, instead of taking a daily pill. However, their success rate and side effect profile are near-identical to contraceptive pills .
Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD)
An IUD may be either hormonal or a copper non-hormonal version. As one of the best long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), IUDs can last for five to 10 years depending on the type. They are over 99% successful in preventing pregnancy, with just a 0.2-0.6% failure rate.
The side effects of hormonal IUDs are mainly irregular bleeding or no menstruation at all, which many women see as a bonus. Copper IUDs may be preferred for their 10-year lifespan, but can make your period heavier and cause pelvic pain .
Progestin shots are effective for around three months at a time. And effective they are: the typical failure rate is only 6%, while the pregnancy rate with perfect use is just 0.2%. Their main side effects are headache, weight gain (which may be fluid retention), irregular bleeding, or a loss of menstruation .
The contraceptive implant is a progestin-releasing rod that lasts for at least three years. Some say that you could use each implant for up to five years. Their side effect profile is similar to progestin shots .
Female sterilization is available as a tubal ligation, where your Fallopian tubes are clipped or “tied”, or bilateral salpingectomy, where they’re removed. These are permanent, so you should only consider it if you are sure you do not want to become pregnant in the future. If so, they’re worth it, as the failure rate is only 0.5 %.
Natural Family Planning Methods
Natural family planning allows you to pinpoint your most fertile times, whether you’re seeking or avoiding pregnancy. It’s perfect for women who suffer from the side effects of birth control pills, even after they’ve tried many different brands.
However, this method is the most challenging, with a perfect-use failure rate of 4% and a typical use failure rate of 24% . To overcome this, we recommend the Natural Cycles app. Its algorithm analyzes cycle and temperature data to predict your fertile days, as your temperature rises a little on ovulation.
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Who Should Avoid Buying Birth Control Pills Online?
Unfortunately, some women have to avoid even the best birth control pill brands, or receive in-person medical assessment and monitoring, for reasons including:
- Smoking, particularly if you are over the age of 35
- A history of breast or endometrial cancer, because these are often estrogen-dependent.
- Current liver cancer
- Clotting disorders, as estrogen can increase the risk of blood clots
- High blood pressure, even in Stage I hypertension
- The progesterone-only pill isn’t for you if you have cancer, are pregnant, or if you have a history of gastric banding.
Here are the most common questions women have about the best birth control pill brands.
Does Birth Control Make You Moody?
Some women may develop or see a worsening of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, on even the best birth control pill brands. This is more likely with the progestin-only minipills, so we recommend you consider combined types of birth control pill if you have a history of mood disorders .
Does Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?
Stronger types of birth control pills are associated with weight gain as body fat. However, others, such as the norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol combination, do not cause noticeable changes in body weight.
Can You Get Pregnant on Birth Control?
Not even the best birth control pill brands are 100% effective, apart from abstinence (until well after menopause) or hysterectomy. However, with perfect use, your chances of pregnancy are minimal, less than 1%.
Does Birth Control Stop Your Period?
Some types of birth control pills can reduce the amount of menstrual bleeding you experience. Completely stopping your period is up to you. While the seven placebos act as placeholders to allow some menstruation and maintain recommended use, you can skip them and continue on with active pills to prevent your period.
Do You Ovulate on Birth Control?
If you’ve chosen one of the best birth control pill brands for your individual needs, you shouldn’t ovulate. Both estrogen and progesterone suppress the hormones that trigger egg development.
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Best Birth Control Pill Brands: Final Thoughts
The best birth control pill brands differ for every woman, depending on your needs and susceptibility to the side effects of birth control pills. Overall, the contraceptive pill is incredibly reliable and convenient, especially with the newer formulations.
That’s why we chose three leading telehealth brands that provide a variety of birth control pills online: Hers, Medzino, and Nurx. While Hers includes some of the best birth control pill brands for acne, Medzino includes the best for weight loss, and Nurx has the best types of birth control pill with fewer side effects.
- Best Birth Control for Acne
- Best Birth Control Pill for Weight Loss
- Best Birth Control for Teens
- Bansode OM, Sarao MS, Cooper DB. Contraception. [Updated 2022 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536949/
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- Hee, Lene et al. “Continuous use of oral contraceptives: an overview of effects and side-effects.” Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica vol. 92,2 (2013): 125-36. doi:10.1111/aogs.12036
- “Table: Comparison of Common Contraceptive Methods.” MSD Manual Professional Edition, Merck & Co., https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-au/professional/multimedia/table/comparison-of-common-contraceptive-methods.
- Mu, Eveline, and Jayashri Kulkarni. “Hormonal contraception and mood disorders.” Australian prescriber vol. 45,3 (2022): 75-79. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2022.025
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