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 fertilization by thinning the mucus in the uterus, making it difficult for the fertilized egg to attach and estrogen, which can help to prevent ovulation, when given at certain levels.
Low-dose estrogen oral contraceptives contain estrogen at 20 mcg and include Alesse, Levlite, Loestrin and Mircette. These pills contain both small levels of estrogen 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 Estrogen Phasic
Created to lower the overall hormone dosage a woman receives, the low-estrogen phasic pill oral contraceptives are known as Estrostep Fe or Loestrin Fe. The first phase contains 20 mcg of estrogen, the second phase contains 30 mcg and the final phase contains 35 mcg.
Regular- to High-Dose Estrogen
Regular-dosage estrogen pills refer to those that contain 35 mcg of estrogen. These brand names include Ortho-Cyclen, Ovcon-35, Brevicon, Modicon, Necon, Norethin, Norinyl, Ortho-Novum, Demulen and Zovia.
High-dosage estrogen pills include Necon, Norinyl, Ortho-Novum, Ovcon-50, Ovral, Demulen, and Zovia.
Higher-Dose Estrogen Phasic
Higher dose estrogen phasic oral contraceptives include a biphasic oral contraceptive pill, meaning the estrogen and progestin levels adjust only once, compared to a triphasic pill, which adjusts twice. Biphasic pills that have 35 mcg of estrogen include Ortho-Novum and Jenest.
Triphasic pills that contain 35 mcg of estrogen include Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Ortho-Novum and Tri-Norinyl.
Also known as mini-pills, progestin-only pills may be useful in women who are unable to take synthetic estrogen. The mini-pill forms can include norethindone, ethyndiol, levonorgestrel and desogestrel.