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Birth Control Pills: How Do They Compare?

I don't know about you, but just about every woman I know has been on or is taking birth control pills. There are so many different brands out there and they all offer different amounts of hormones, so I made this handy chart to help you figure out which one may be right for you. These pills are combination pills, which means they contain a type of estrogen (ethinyl estradiol), and a type of progestin (levonorgestrel, desogestrel, norethindrone). The pills with the least amount of ethinyl estradiol tend to offer the least amount of side effects, and the ones that offer the same hormonal dosages each day (monophasic pills) will help to ease PMS symptoms (mainly mood swings). With so many different options out there, it's important to know what's actually in these pills, since every woman's body reacts differently to hormonal birth control. Check out my chart below:

Birth Control Hormone Dosage
Alesse .10 mg levonorgestrel and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Brevikon .5 mg norethindrone acetate and 35 mcg estrogen per pill
Cyclessa Phase 1: .1 mg desogestrel and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 2: .125 mg desogestrel and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 3: 15 mg desogestrel and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Jolessa .15 mg levonorgestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Junel 21 Day 1.5 mg norethindrone acetate and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Kelnor 1 mg ethynodiol diacetate and 35 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Loestrin 21 1 mg norethindrone acetate and 20 mcg estrogen per pill

Don't see yours on the list? To see the others,


Birth Control Hormone Dosage
Lybrel .09 mg levonorgestrel and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Nordette .15 mg levonorgestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Orthro Tri-Cyclen Phase 1: .18 mg norgestimate and 35 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 2: .215 mg norgestimate and 35 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 3: 25 mg norgestimate and 35 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Orthro Tri-Cyclen Lo Phase 1: .18 mg norgestimate and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol (type of estrogen) per pill
Phase 2: .215 mg norgestimate and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 3: 25 mg norgestimate and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Reclipsen .15 mg desogestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Seasonal .15 mg levonorgestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Seasonique .15 mg levonorgestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Solia .15 mg desogestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Trivora-28 Phase 1: .5 mg levonorgestrel and 30 mcgethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 2: .075 mg levonorgestrel and 40 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 3: .125 mg levonorgestrel and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Velivet Phase 1: .1 mg desogestrel and 25 mcgethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 2: .125 mg desogrestrel and 25 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Phase 3: .15 mg desogestrel and 24 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Yasmin 3 mg drospirenone and 30 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill
Yaz 3 mg drospirenone and 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol per pill

Pretty interesting information, huh? So ladies, if you're on the pill, which one works best for you?

— Additional reporting by Alexis Nordby

Image Source: Shutterstock
Join The Conversation
Kristensaurus Kristensaurus 7 years
I've been on both ortho-tri cyclen and ortho-tri cyclen lo. No decreased libido, and to ohkate above, no hair loss either! I've been on it for 8 years and it works well for me. Everyone is different. Some people can take one Tylenol and be very effected by it, and some can take three and still have pain. Some have one beer and are drunk, while it takes others six beers to get to the same level. Just because one person had a terrible experience with a certain brand of BCP does not mean anyone else will have the same experience. My Gyn told me this when I asked about Yaz because my friend had a good experience with it, and she warned me that my experience could be the opposite.
Bacall83 Bacall83 7 years
Isn't Diane only available in Canada? I also thought the Health Canada, the Canadian version of the FDA, said in 2005 that Diane could only be prescribed for the treatment of acne no longer for birth control.
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 8 years
Seasonal/ Seasonique. It's the first one I ever tried (3 years ago now) and I NEVER had any side effects not even when I first started it. Also no weight gain, it's harder for me to lose weight, but then again my BMI is 19, I don't need to lose weight :).
Natalie-Love Natalie-Love 8 years
I've been on Diane for the past 2.5 years. It has a bad rep as it has increased chances of giving you blood clots, so I had to beg my gyno to give it to me again. I originally went on it for messed up periods and acne, and now, my skin is SO great, no side affects, I REALLY don't wanna switch. I think I'll be put on Yasmin next time I go, in a year. Hopefully my skin won't be bad.. eek.
YoursToKeep YoursToKeep 8 years
I just started on Yasmin almost a week ago, so I haven't seen any changes yet, but I was just wondering what to expect. A couple of you commented on the awful side effects you had from it, what specifically did you have? And will my boobs grow for sure? (thats something I'm definitely not looking forward too!)
Phunkometry Phunkometry 8 years
I've been on Yaz for over a year... at first, it gave me weird acne, but recently I've had a boob growth spurt (from a B to almost more than a C in like a moth or so... so it might be from that. However, my terrible cramps that kept me in bed for a few days are gone (I still get mild dull pain, but not like it used to be), and I tend not to be as bitchy as I used to be. And period is right on time, and somewhat lighter than it used to be. No insurance plan, though, so it's $50+ a month. :( Anyone know if there's a generic for Yaz?
nopenope nopenope 8 years
I've been on Microgestin Fe 1/20 (Alesse generic) for 2.5 years. No problems at all! Haven't had to purchase tampons -- I always had light periods, but on this BC it's non-existent. I get mild cramps about 3 times a year, though, in return. I just switched to my own insurance plan and it's $40 a year ($10 for 3 months) for the prescription. Previously, on my mom's work plan, it was $20 a year ($5 for 3 months). The first BC I tried (can't remember which one) I was only on for three months before my current one. While bigger boobs were awesome, I also gained a couple of pounds in the process and the hormones were definitely getting to me.
arbywhopper arbywhopper 8 years
I am on Ortho- Lo. I can remember to take it at all. I use to be on the ring and I didn't like it at all! It was painful and my hubby said he could feel it during sex. I want to try Implanon, but I'm scared. And i can never remember to take the pill. I haven't even been on it a week and I have already forgotten it twice. And i DON'T want to get pregnant!!
MisterPinkNoTip MisterPinkNoTip 8 years
After the dreadful side effects of Yaz, I'm really reluctant to try another birth control again.
Beaner Beaner 8 years
I was on ortho tricyclen Lo and Loestren and I just didn't like being on them, and neither did my man. He said he didn't want me putting chemicals in my body. Plus it made me gain weight and I cried for a week before my period. Now I'm off hormonal BC and I feel sane again.
cjmara805 cjmara805 8 years
I'm all about the ring. Years ago I tried Mircette and Zovia, they were terrible and I stopped taking them because the side effects weren't worth the benefit. Last year my doctor put me on Yaz but it made my boobs HUGE and painful and I had a permanent headache... now I'm on the ring and I couldn't be happier.
dameneko dameneko 8 years
i used ortho tri-cyclen for over 15 years, and finally my body said "NO MORE!" -- i started getting side effects like fatigue, bloat and bleeding that went away when i went off it. :( i think it is because my body is hormonally different in my early 30's than when i was just as an exercise, i'm seeing what's really "normal" for my body and my cycle. when i go back on the pill, it will probably be something like yaz -- many of my friends switched to it in the past few years and they are all pretty happy with it.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Wow, I happy that BC pills works for many of you. I've had a bout with them, and they did NOT agree with me. If memory serves me correctly, I tried about three brands. Physically and psychologically, I was a wreck. I had every possible side effect, and I was so FATIGUED. Well, I'm glad the pill works for many of you.
zabrow zabrow 8 years
i was taken off combo pills because of migraines with auras. now i'm off hormonal birth control for the first time in nine years & it is GREAT. my skin has cleared up, my sex drive is back & i'm losing weight like crazy. i know it usually works just the opposite for most people, but MAN, i had no idea!
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 8 years
I've been on Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo for a couple years now and have had no side effects. Definitely not a lower sex drive at all, that's for sure! I haven't noticed any hair loss or anything. I think it makes me gain a few lbs--but that could just be my crazy mind. I used to think it gave me terrible mood swings, but it turns out that was just my exboyfriend doing that to me. :P
bibliophile bibliophile 8 years
Ortho Tri-cyclen Lo gave me the worst nausea, but since I've switched to Loestrin, I've been feeling great.
sushi09 sushi09 8 years
ohkate - i am on ortho lo and my sex drive is lower and my hair loss has increased, but otherwise the pill has worked great for 4 years. however, i am thinking of switching to yaz cuz these 2 side effects are pretty major!!
MissMeow MissMeow 8 years
I'm on Tri-cyclen lo, switched over from yaz. Yaz gave me a week of horrible pms a month. A few days I can stand, but I turned into a monster for 7 days straight. Things are much better with Ortho lo. Haven't noticed a decrease in my sex drive at allll.
ThePerfectScore ThePerfectScore 8 years
I was 1st on Yasmin... now on Yaz.... both prevent pregnancy... and I dont have side effects, but I don't think my periods are a dream come true haha... they still last about 5 days... but at least on the pill I have an exact date for them to start each month.
sonya-ina sonya-ina 8 years
Mine's not listed on here, but I take Estrostep FE (i.e. Tilia FE). It was originally prescribed to me 5 years ago in order to regulate my cycle and I've been on it ever since. I've never had any problem -- no weight gain, moodiness, or decreased sex drive, yippee! No complaints from me! Oh, and I'm not pregnant, ha!
Madoka321 Madoka321 8 years
What about progesterone only pills for those of us out there who can't have any added estrogen in our bodies? I have been on Camila for about 5 years. I was taken off the others because of Migraines. Where does Camila and others of that type stand on the list?
cheer4veggies cheer4veggies 8 years
love love love my jolessa (generic of seasonale) its the only kind ive ever been on and have zero plans of switching. i save loads of money never needing to buy pads or tampons.
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