From the pill and the patch, to the ring and injection, you may find a birth control option that fits your family planning needs.
But there’s another type of contraception you’ve probably not heard of: chewable birth control.
If you don’t like swallowing a pill every day, chewable contraceptive control may be best for you. But is it effective and available? Learn the basics of this little-discussed contraceptive form.
Femcon Fe was the first chewable birth control approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (2003). The drug was designed specifically for people who want to take an oral contraceptive but do not like standard birth control pills.
It is important to note that Femcon Fe is now discontinued, but was not discontinued for safety or efficiency reasons.
“There’s a certain group of people who don’t swallow pills,” says Jill Edwardson, MD, MPH, director of the Kenneth J. Ryan residency program in abortion and family planning and assistant professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins Medicine. .
Chewable birth control was also intended for many people who forget to take the pill every day at the same time.
“One-third to half … miss the pills,” says Shaalini Ramanadhan, MD, a member of the general family planning division and gynecologist at Oregon School of Medicine & Science.
In theory, it may be easier to put the chewable contraceptive package in your wallet. Whether you forget to take the pill on time or if you are traveling and want to keep your medication discreet, you can use a chewable birth control pill wherever you are, Ramanadhan explains.
Edwardson says chewable birth control pills come in many formulations from various brands.
Some examples of commonly prescribed chewable birth control pills are:
- Generess Fe
- Minastrin 24 Fe
- Wymzya Fe
- Zenchent Fe
- Kaitlib Fe
- Layolis Fe
According to Edwardson, all types of chewable contraceptives are a combined birth control. This means that they contain both ethanol estradiol, the synthetic form of estrogen, and norethindrone of progestin, the synthetic form of progesterone.
Progestin prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. Ramanadhan explains that estradiol is added mainly to reduce the risk of unpredictable and advanced bleeding.
Although standard birth control pills have progestin-only formulations, “progestin-only pills are not marketed as chewable,” says Jessica Kiley, MD, MPH, head of obstetrics and general gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Northwestern University
The main difference between various types of chewable birth control pills is simply the level of estradiol and progestin they contain, he adds.
The original chewable birth control pill, Femcon Fe, is discontinued. However, you can still buy many other chewable birth control pills from other brands. They all have relatively similar formulas, says Ramanadhan.
Edwardson says chewable birth control has the same effectiveness and benefits as other combined birth control pills.
Some people believe that combined birth control can cause:
Another disadvantage of chewing birth control: you can stop taking it whenever you want. With some other methods, such as birth control implants, you will need to visit your doctor to remove the device.
Although, while combined birth control may help with some types of migraines, it should not be used by people with migraines with aura.
Edwardson says chewable contraceptive control has the same side effects as other combined birth control pills. Most are mild and disappear on their own within a few months of use.
Side effects may include:
The main specific drawback of chewable birth control is the limited options compared to standard birth control pills. This gives doctors less chance of switching to another formulation if you experience side effects.
All combined hormone pills, including chewable birth control, carry a very small risk of blood clots. This can lead to deep vein thrombosis, heart attack and stroke. Estrogen is responsible for the increased risk of clots.
“Only one in 1,000 women with combined birth control has a blood clot,” Ramanadhan says.
Doctors do not recommend combined hormonal contraceptives for people with certain conditions, such as:
- history of migraines with aura
- high blood pressure
If you have just given birth, your doctor will also recommend that you wait up to 4 to 6 weeks to start taking combined hormonal contraceptives, such as chewing birth control.
Some chewable birth control brands recommend drinking a full glass of water after taking the pill. That’s to make sure the drug doesn’t stick to your teeth, Edwardson says.
“You need to make sure that all the fragments are swallowed and that there is no residue left in the mouth,” Ramanadhan says.
Check the label. New chewable contraceptive brands recommend not taking pills with water to avoid diluting the hormones they contain.
“It can change estrogen levels, which can affect bleeding patterns, but not effectiveness,” Ramanadhan explains.
If you have health insurance, you should expect to pay the copayment of your chewable birth control insurance.
“At least one guy should be covered by insurance,” Edwardson says.
“Normally, most insurers will cover a lot of different pills, including chewable pills,” Kiley says.
If you plan to pay out of pocket, the cost will vary by brand.
Reviews on chewable birth control on Drugs.com are generally positive. They range from an average of 7 for Fe generess to 5.1 for Fe Minastrin on a 10-point scale.
Some users claim that chewing birth control was effective in making periods lighter and more regular and that it helped improve the symptoms of PMS, such as mood swings.
However, other users relate the pills to undesirable side effects such as nausea and anxiety.
If you acquire birth control in the United States, OB-GYNs say they have never heard of specific problems with fake birth control pills.
However, the FDA has warned about pharmacies on the Internet that sell unapproved prescription drugs of unknown origin, safety and efficacy.
If you do not fill a prescription through your pharmacy, be sure to buy from a reliable source. The FDA says an online pharmacy is likely to be safe if:
- always requires a prescription
- is licensed to a state pharmacy board
- has a physical US address and telephone number
- provides a pharmacist to answer your questions
For any type of birth control, it is a good idea to receive a prescription.
“Make sure you talk to your provider to make sure you are not at risk for side effects or contraindications,” Ramanadhan says.
Chewable birth control is a portable contraceptive designed specifically for people who have difficulty swallowing pills. It is a combination of synthetic versions of progesterone and estrogen, which prevent pregnancy and reduce advanced bleeding.
People who have just given birth or who have certain conditions, such as migraines with aura, should not take control of chewable birth rate as it contains estrogen.
In general, chewable birth control is very comparable to standard combined birth control pills. “I think chewable birth control pills are just another way to get birth control in the body,” Edwardson says. “It works the same way as a regular combined birth control pill, with the same side effects and benefits.”
Colleen de Bellefonds is a Paris-based health and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience writing and editing regularly for publications such as WhatToExpect.com, Women’s Health, WebMD, Healthgrades.com and CleanPlates.com. Find her on Twitter.