Finding a birth control pill that works for you is kind of like find the one (😍!!😍). It might take a few tries to get it right, but once you do, it’s 100 percent worth the trial and error.
If you’re not loving your current BC prescription, it’s def worth talking to your doctor. There are plenty of other pills that might work better for your lifestyle, or might not have the same side effects (if your current pill is making you feel blah).
A bit nervous about changing things up? Rest assured that with the help of your gyno, switching pills is pretty easy. Here’s what you should think about before talking to your doctor, plus all the important nuggets of info you should know as you start the process of changing your Rx.
Consider why you want to switch—and write it down
To have a productive conversation with your doctor about why you want to switch pills, it’s a good idea to come prepared with your thoughts organized on paper. (Or ya know, your iPhone.)
Thinking about the answers to the below questions can help get the ball rolling.
💊Are you experiencing side effects?
Everyone’s different, which means that every woman will react differently to a birth control pill. Common side effects include breakthrough bleeding, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and water retention, among others.
If these side effects persist for more than three months, then it’s a smart idea to consult with your doctor—and possibly switch, says Dr. Janelle Luk, of Generation Next Fertility. “It’s one thing to feel off at first, but it’s another for these side effects to linger on,” she says. Especially with symptoms related to blood clots, like pain, swelling, skin redness, or a warm spot on the arms or legs. “It’s been shown that the birth control pill can make your blood coagulate more easily, so it’s important to talk to someone and find a solution.”
💊Has your health status changed?
If you’ve been taking a combination pill and recently started smoking or developed a health issue that affects how your blood clots, you should consider switching to a lower-risk progestin-only pill. (Combination pills contain progestin and estrogen).
💊Are you looking for a pill with additional benefits?
Not all women who go on the birth control pill are taking it in hopes to prevent pregnancy. In fact, 14 percent of users take the pill for other reasons, according to one Guttmacher Institute report. “This can range from anything from controlling acne to harsh migraines to uncomfortable breast tenderness,” says Dr. Tara Shirazian, a gynecologist at NYU Langone Health. If there are other benefits to BC that you want to explore, this is definitely something to bring up with you gyno.
How—and when—to switch to a new birth control pill
To increase the odds of a smooth transition from one type of birth control to the next, aim to make the switch at the end of your cycle. This will be the day following the last day you take your inactive sugar pill.
“Not only will this help maintain regularity with potential bleeding, but also [provide] maximal contraception,” Dr. Shirazian says.
One thing to keep in mind: During this switch, it’s smart to use a backup method of birth control—like condoms, Dr. Shirazian advises. “It’s very likely that you are covered, but there’s no harm in an extra layer of protection.”
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