Birth control pills or vaginal ring

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Birth control pills — also called oral contraceptives — are a common type of contraception. If you're considering taking birth control pills, you may have more choices than you'd think.

You'll start by choosing either combination birth control pills or minipills. If you choose combination birth control pills, you'll have another choice — between using conventional packs, or extended or continuous dosing.

With conventional birth control pills, you'll have a period every month. With extended or continuous dosing birth control pills, you may have a period only a few times a year or you may eliminate your period entirely.

Similar to combination birth control pills, the vaginal ring prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into your body. The hormones suppress ovulation — keeping your ovaries from releasing an egg.

Each type of birth control pill has its own risks and benefits. So does the vaginal ring. Understand the basics, then work with your doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care provider to determine whether a birth control pill or a vaginal ring might best meet your needs.

Jan. 12, 2021