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March 3, 2007

What are monophasic, biphasic and triphasic birth control pills?

The early forms of birth control pills had a good deal of estrogen in them. Today’s birth control pills have a lot less hormone in them than even 10 years ago. That’s because we have learned that they work at much lower doses than we originally thought.

Most birth control pills contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. They are categorized as monophasic, biphasic, or triphasic pills depending on whether the level of hormones stays the same during the first three weeks of the menstrual cycle or changes. Pills for the fourth week, when included, are usually “reminder” pills. They contain no active drug and are there to keep you on a daily schedule.

Monophasic pills contain the same amount of estrogen and progestin in all of the active pills in a pack. Examples of monophasic pills include Brevicon, Loestrin, Alesse, and Ortho-Cept. Because of the uniform hormone level in all the pills, monophasics are least likely to cause side effects, such as mood changes, that can result from fluctuating hormone levels in the body.

Biphasic and triphasic pills contain different dosages of progestin or estrogen throughout the pill pack. Compared with monophasics, these pills reduce the total hormone dosage a woman receives and are thought to better match the body’s natural menstrual cycle. Biphasic pills change the level of hormones once during the menstrual cycle. Examples of biphasic pills include Ortho-Novum 10/11, Mircette and Necon 10/11.

Triphasic pills contain three different doses of hormones in the active pills (changing every seven days during the first three weeks of pills). Triphasic pills include Ortho-Novum 7/7/7, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Triphasil, Tri-Levlen, and Tri-Norinyl.

When taken regularly and according to the directions, birth control pills are 98% to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, depending on how much estrogen they contain. The most common reason for pregnancy in a woman taking birth control pills is a failure to take them as directed. You should be familiar with the instructions that come with the dispenser for what to do if you miss a dose. It is a good idea to use a second method such as a condom or diaphragm for the rest of the month, even if you miss only one dose.

Despite the differences, no single pill or pill type rates as the “best” one. Experts consider all combination pills equally effective in preventing pregnancy, provided the pills are used appropriately. Your doctor can help you choose a birth control pill based on your age, medical history, and lifestyle, and cost.

BirthControlBuzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, birth control types (prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase birth control on-line.

For more information call 1-866-868-8850 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.

Birth Control Buzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, types of birth control(prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase pharmaceuticals on-line. For more information, call 1-866-868-8850 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.


  1. I was on a monophasic birth control pill for 7 years. It had lowered my sex drive and was ruining my marriage. I recently got off the pill and my sex drive is 100% better. I was taking birth control to control my oily skin and acne. Without birth control pills my skin looks terrible. I cannot take accutane because it makes my hair fall out. Is there a birth control pill I can take that will not affect my sex drive?

    Comment by Anonymous — August 28, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  2. Thank you for your help!

    Comment by Anonymous — March 4, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

  3. Will a monophasic pill decrease breastmilk? Do you recommend a progestin only pill?

    Comment by Belinda Catchings — November 21, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  4. Dear Belinda,

    It is not advisable to start any type of hormonal birth control during the first six months after birth. If a nursing mother chooses to use a hormonal method of birth control, the recommended choice is progestin only methods, such as implants such as Norplant, (A newer implant, Implanonis awaiting FDA approval), mini-pills such as Micronor, Noriday, Femulen, Norgeston, & Cerazette, or injectables (Depo-Provera). All of these methods can be very effective, and may even increase milk volume. Although some of the progestin hormone may enter the breastmilk, there is no evidence of adverse effects from the small amount of hormone that passes into the milk. It is recommended that the use of progestin-only hormones be delayed for at least six weeks post-partum due to the possibility of the hormones interfering with the early establishment of lactation. The last choice of birth control for nursing mothers is methods that contain estrogen, such as the standard combined oral contraceptives. These methods are very effective, but often decrease milk supply, and some of the hormone may pass into the mother’s milk. Although there is no evidence of a direct negative effect on the babies of mothers taking the combined pill, there is strong evidence that in many women, estrogen can lead to a decrease in milk supply and early weaning. If the other methods of birth control can’t be avoided, and the combined pill is the only option, then breastfeeding can and should be continued, since it offers many health and nutritional benefits which are important for the nursing infant or toddler. If the mother chooses to use this method, the baby’s weight should be monitored carefully so that adequate intake is ensured. For many mothers, a slight decrease in milk output is insignificant, and in any case, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the disadvantages. For immediate questions or concerns, please contact your physician or health care provider.

    Comment by Janine — November 21, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

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