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Posted on: September 11, 2023

Oral Contraceptive Pills


With advancements in technology and scientific research, there are now many methods of contraception to choose from for the purpose of family planning. One that is fairly popular in Malaysia is the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), which is a tablet taken once a day, at the same time, with a 99% efficacy rate when used correctly.1  

However, not all oral contraceptive pills are the same. Some contain a lower amount of hormones than others. These are known as low dose oral contraceptive pills. Opting for these pills offers lower side effects and it has potential benefits such as reduced menstrual flow and cramping.2

It is important to know the different types of oral contraceptive pills available in the market to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Different Types of Oral Contraceptive Pills

Oral contraceptive pills can be distinguished by the type of hormones they contain and also the dosage. Here are the different types of oral contraceptive pills in Malaysia you need to know about:

Progesterone-Only Pill (POP) 

Progesterone-only oral contraceptives, also known as mini pills, do not contain estrogen. As the name suggests, they only contain the hormone progesterone. Healthcare professionals may recommend this to those who are not suitable to take estrogen, such as for breastfeeding mothers.3

Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP) 

Combined oral contraceptive pills contain both estrogen and progesterone hormones. Estrogen is a hormone used in contraceptive pills along with progesterone to prevent pregnancy. It achieves this by thickening the cervical mucus, which prevents sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it. Additionally, it inhibits ovulation and thins the lining of the uterus.4 

The pills usually include around 30 to 35 micrograms (mcg) of ethinyl estradiol, a synthetic estrogen. There is also an ultra-low dose of oral contraceptive pills containing up to 20 mcg of estrogen. 

Ultra-Low Dose (≤20 mcg estrogen) vs Low Dose (≤35 mcg estrogen) Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills

Ultra-low dose combination pills contain both estrogen and progesterone, but with a lower dose of estrogen. This helps to reduce potential side effects such as nausea, breast tenderness, and bloating.6  

If you struggle with the potential side effects mentioned above, the ultra-low dose COCP might be a suitable alternative of oral contraceptive options for you. You can ask your pharmacist and doctor’s advice about possibly switching to an ultra-low dose combination pill. 

Potential Side Effects of COCP

These are the potential side effects that you may experience when you take any combined oral contraceptive pills.7 The possible side effects include:

  • Headache 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating

However, the ultra-low dose COCP potentially minimizes these side effects. It is important to remember that these side effects and their severity vary from person to person. 

Consulting a Healthcare Provider for Optimal Use of Oral Contraceptive Pills

 When it comes to contraception, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone is different, and it is important to choose the right contraceptive method that fits your individual needs. Consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable OCP in Malaysia that works for you.

 If you have any questions or concerns about using birth control pills, don’t hesitate to discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist. Visit Howuknow to learn more about different methods of contraception.