Oral contraceptives are provided for a number of purposes: to prevent pregnancy, to regulate periods and to prevent or alleviate hormone-related issues. Because different women have different needs when it comes to their menstrual cycle, numerous brands of oral contraceptives exist, of varying types and hormone levels. Most contain the hormones progestin, which prevents fertilisation by thinning the mucus in the uterus, making it difficult for the fertilised egg to attach and oestrogen, which can help to prevent ovulation, when given at certain levels.
Low-dose oestrogen oral contraceptives contain oestrogen at 20mcg and include Alesse, Levlite, Loestrin and Mircette. These pills contain both small levels of oestrogen and progestin. They may vary in dosage level and are described as monophasic, meaning the amount of hormones contained within the pills is constant throughout the 21-day period they are taken.
Low-dose oestrogen phasic
Created to lower the overall hormone dosage a woman receives, the low-oestrogen phasic pill oral contraceptives are known as Estrostep Fe or Loestrin Fe. The first phase contains 20mcg of oestrogen, the second phase contains 30mcg and the final phase contains 35mcg.
Regular to high-dose oestrogen
Regular-dosage oestrogen pills refer to those that contain 35mcg of oestrogen. These brand names include Ortho-Cyclen, Ovcon-35, Brevicon, Modicon, Necon, Norethin, Norinyl, Ortho-Novum, Demulen and Zovia.
High-dosage oestrogen pills include Necon, Norinyl, Ortho-Novum, Ovcon-50, Ovral, Demulen, and Zovia.
Higher-dose oestrogen phasic
Higher dose oestrogen phasic oral contraceptives include a biphasic oral contraceptive pill, meaning the oestrogen and progestin levels adjust only once, compared to a triphasic pill, which adjusts twice. Biphasic pills that have 35mcg of oestrogen include Ortho-Novum and Jenest.
Triphasic pills that contain 35mcg of oestrogen include Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Ortho-Novum and Tri-Norinyl.
Also known as minipills, progestin-only pills may be useful in women who are unable to take synthetic oestrogen. The mini-pill forms can include norethindone, ethyndiol, levonorgestrel and desogestrel.