Medically reviewed by Sophia Yen, MD, MPH – Written by Pandia Health Editorial Team
So you want to know which birth control is right for you? Thanks to medical advancements, you now have numerous options – this can be both exciting and intimidating. Whether you’re starting birth control for the first time or want to try something new, it’s important to be well-educated on each type before making a decision.
Read on to learn all the ins and outs of the birth control pill, patch, and ring. As someone who has tried all three, I hope to provide some helpful insight.
I started the birth control pill when I was 13 years old and kept taking it until I was 18. My pediatrician originally prescribed it to me because I rarely got my period. It arrived for two days in the 6th grade and then it never came back until I was in the 8th grade. From there, it came every three to four months… talk about irregularity!?
When I started the pill, my mom was mortified to hear that I was taking it simply because of the associated social stigma. No mom wants to know or admit that their child is having sex, despite the fact that roughly 30% of high school students in the US are sexually active. With that being said, birth control may be prescribed for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, which was the case for me. Furthermore, my mom reluctantly allowed me to start the medication.
Pros of the birth control pill
- I was able to control whether or not I got my period. If I took the pill as prescribed (three rows of active pills and one row of placebo pills), I bled for a few days before starting a new pack. If I skipped the placebo pills, I wouldn’t bleed at all.
- I knew I probably wasn’t going to get pregnant if I had sex, especially when I also used condoms.
Cons of the birth control pill
- Generally speaking, it may take some trial and error to determine which pill is right for you. Furthermore, the first pill you try may not be the one you take long-term.
- In my case, the change in hormones made me more easily annoyed and cranky, especially during the week before my period came.
- I had such a difficult time remembering to take the pills everyday! While it is okay if this happens every once in a while, missing the pill regularly could lead to consequences, especially for those who are sexually active.
I “upgraded” to the patch in college because I didn’t want to take a pill every day and liked the idea of only having to change the patch every week. I signed up for Family PACT, California’s “innovative approach to provide comprehensive family planning services to eligible low income (under 200% federal poverty level) men and women”. My physician at the time prescribed OrthoEvra, which was dispensed as a three month’s supply by my local pharmacy. I used this method for about five years – I stopped when I studied abroad because I could no longer get my hands on it.
Pros of the birth control patch:
- This method was more convenient than the pill, as I only had to change out the patch once a week versus every day.
- I could apply the patch myself, so I did not need to worry about seeing a doctor regularly.
- I did not notice any changes to my mood.
Cons of the birth control patch
- This is very minor, but still something important to note: people who saw my patch assumed it was nicotine and further implied that I smoke, which is not the case.
- Due to my active lifestyle, the adhesive nature of the patch led to some skin irritation.
The final form of birth control I tried was the ring, which is a small device that is inserted into the vagina and left in for three weeks. I was attracted to this method because I only had to think about it once every three weeks versus once a week. While many individuals love the ring, unfortunately, it did not work for me, as the hormone dose caused me to become very irritable.
Pros of the birth control ring
- I loved the convenience of this method. I only had to think about it every three weeks.
- Contrary to popular belief, the ring is painless. In fact, you don’t feel it at all.
- It is highly effective, as it releases a continuous dose of hormones centralized in your abdomen.
Cons of the birth control ring
- While I didn’t mind getting up close and personal with my vagina, this may not be the case for every person.
- A sexual partner may notice it during penetrative intercourse.
- The ring can be expensive for individuals who don’t have insurance.
What’s the takeaway?
Now that you’ve heard a bit about my experience, it’s time to explore the options on your own.
Being that every individual’s body is different, you may notice different responses to each type of birth control – what works for one person may not work for others. At the end of the day, you know your body best. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.
Dr. Yen’s thoughts about the pill, patch, and ring:
Our CEO & co-founder, Dr. Yen is an expert on all things birth control. You can find her thoughts on the pill, patch, and ring below:
In general, the doctors at Pandia Health recommend that people with uteri consider long-acting reversible contraceptives (i.e. the IUD or implant) before the pill, patch, and ring because they are more effective. That being said, if you don’t like the idea of having something in your uterus or arm, then you should absolutely consider the other options.
The pill, the patch, and the ring are essentially the same drugs. However, the ring and the patch are limited in terms of choices on the market, while there are 40+ different pill options. Additionally, the patch may not be recommended for all individuals, as its higher dose of estrogen may lead to an increased risk of developing blood clots. On the other hand, the pill and the ring may be prescribed to any individual. A huge perk of these methods is that they allow you to decide when and if you get your period.
Regardless of which birth control method you use, note that you are not locked in forever. Make sure to communicate openly and honestly with your doctor to ensure that they can provide the appropriate care.
How can Pandia Health help?
At Pandia Health, our goal is to provide as many individuals as possible with affordable birth control. If you live in the US, you can sign up for our FREE delivery service. Once you enter some basic information into our online form, you can sit back and let our Patient Care Advisors do the rest. From there, you can #SkipTheTrip to the pharmacy and enjoy getting your birth control delivered right to your mailbox.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to inform and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Pandia Health. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.