AUBRA BIRTH CONTOL
There are a LOT of different types of birth control. But why is it that when we hear “The Pill” we know we’re talkin’ hormonal birth control, but we never stop to think about what type of birth control pill it is, or what exactly it’s made with? So we’re breaking it down. Meet Aubra birth control, one type of birth control pill.
What is Aubra Birth Control? How does it work?
Aubra Birth Control (known generically as Levonorgestrel-Ethinyl Estrad) is a BC pill that contains two synthetic hormones: progestin and estrogen. Pills that have both of these hormones are sometimes referred to as “combination birth control” pills. For contrast, there are other pills that only contain synthetic progestin, which are referred to as “progestin-only” pills.
Synthetic progestin and estrogen work together in Aubra birth control to prevent pregnancy in the following ways:
Stopping ovulation from occurring by halting the pituitary gland (which is the organ that produces hormones in the body) from releasing follicle stimulating hormones (aka FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Thickening the mucus around the cervix, making it harder for sperm to move around.
Changing the lining of the uterus so that it is inhospitable for a fertilized egg.
What we need to know about how to use it
A packet of Aubra contains 28 pills. In the pack, 21 of those pills are “active” meaning they contain progestin and estrogen. People on Aubra will take an “active” pill every single day for 21 days. After the 21st pill, folks on Aubra can take an “inactive” pill, made with iron supplements instead of hormones, every day for 7 days. When the package of pills is finished, you start over with a new pack. These pills need to be taken daily for the most efficacy, so consistency is key.
What happens when I take the iron pills, and do I really have to take them?
When taking the iron pill some people may experience bleeding for the full 7 days, others may bleed for a few days, and some may only spot for a day or two. Of course, each person will have a different reaction—people may experience cramps, headaches, nausea or acne while taking these “inactive” pills. The iron pills are mostly there to help you remember to take a pill every day (because this is essential for those 21 “active” pill days!), so it’s okay to skip them (though we are certainly not recommending you do!) as long as you remember to start the next pack after one week of not taking the “inactive” pills. You are still protected from pregnancy during your week of “inactive” pills, so long as you have taken your “active” pills consistently. Remember to always note how you feel in your body—do you notice any changes? If at any point something feels off or you aren’t sure, check in with your provider.
How effective is Aubra?
To be most effective, these pills must be taken around the same time every day. If these pills are taken perfectly, they are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. However, we’re human and stuff happens. With human error taken into account, birth control pills hover around a 91% efficacy rate—in other words, around 9 out of 100 users may become pregnant.
The most important thing for efficacy is to remember to take the pill! But there are a few other things that also make it less effective and are worth noting:
Vomiting or having diarrhea four hours after taking the pill.
Certain medications and antibiotics. Aubra’s site has more info on the specifics here, but it is always essential to ask your provider how any medications or supplements you take will affect your birth control.
St. John’s Wort. Yes! Herbs are powerful—even if modern medicine still calls ‘em woo woo. Always talk to your herbalist, acupuncturist, nutritionist, etc. about your birth control before taking supplements or herbs. (6)
Ok, so what’s the difference between a “Combination” and “Progestin-only” birth control pill?
The big difference is in the name! Progestin-only pills contain no synthetic estrogen. Interestingly, naturally occurring progesterone and estrogen work in partnership, meaning, when one is affected, the other typically is too. Some theorize taking progestin-only pills does not impact your estrogen levels, but it is not well researched. While combination birth control pills like Aubra standardize both estrogen and progestin, a good question to keep asking medical providers is: Will progestin-only birth control pills change my estrogen production?
Of course, taking any kind of hormonal birth control pill fundamentally impacts your hormones. Think about it this way: If without birth control your body has natural spikes and dips of estrogen and progesterone, birth control pills containing synthetic versions of these hormones will give you a regulated amount of estrogen and progestin. Your body won’t naturally create the ebb and flow of those hormones as the pill does it for you.
The two types of pills do function differently.
While all hormonal birth control works by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining, progestin-only pills (sometimes called the “Mini-Pill”) do not prevent ovulation. Therefore, progestin-only pills must be taken at the same time every day because the effects of synthetic progestin (i.e thickening cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining to prevent implantation) happen very quickly and can wear off pretty fast- many doctors believe ingested progestin (like the Mini-Pill) can leave the body completely within 24 hours. Therefore, it is v. important to take progestin-only pills at almost the same time each day—you only have a 3-hour time window, according to most doctors. If you take progestin-only birth control pills outside of the 3-hour time window, be sure to use a backup method of birth control, like a condom.
What else should I know about Aubra’s uses?
Some people are put on Aubra to help treat acne, ease symptoms of PMS, or make periods less painful and lighter. It is important to know that while Aubra can help minimize symptoms, it will not treat the root cause of whatever hormonal imbalances are at play or what exactly is causing the discomfort or inflammation in the first place.
What are Aubra’s potential side effects?
This is a great question and more and more research is being done to better understand them. While some people experience few to no side effects, they can also range from acne (even if some people are put on hormonal birth control to help alleviate acne), skin rashes, nausea, dizziness, migraines, mood swings, yeast infections, hair loss, depression, low-libido and more. For a complete list of potential side effects check out Aubra’s website.
We recommend tracking how you feel while on any birth control. After all, you are putting hormones into your body, which changes the whole ecosystem—it’s important to stay on top of it! If at any point you feel off, talk to your practitioner.
I’m on Aubra. How do I know if something is wrong?
Planned Parenthood suggests that if you’re taking combination birth control there are a few warning signs to look out for that would require immediate medical attention:
Sudden back/jaw pain along with nausea, sweating or trouble breathing
Chest pain or chest discomfort
Achy soreness in the leg(s)
Severe pain in belly or stomach
Sudden acute headache
Headaches that are different, worse or more frequent than usual
Aura (when you see splotches, flashing, or zigazg lines)
Yellowing of skin or eyes
Questions to ask your provider (and yourself) to see if Aubra is right for you:
The most important thing is to share your medical history, personal circumstances, as well as how you feel during your day-to-day. A very thorough medical history discussion is called for here, but just some specifics that are vital to talk through to help guide the convo (Get a downloadable PDF here to bring with you to your practitioner!)
Will you be able to take a pill around the same time each day?
Any history of migraines? Folks who experience migraines (particularly migraines with aura, where you see splotches) and take combination birth control pills, like Aubra have an increased risk of stroke.
Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?
Do you have a low sex drive?
Do you smoke cigarettes?
Do you have a history of blood clots?
Do you have a history of cancer?
How is your blood pressure? Blood sugar levels?
Do you have a history of heart disease or any heart conditions?
Do you suffer from any known hormonal imbalances?
Do you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or another thyroid disease?
How does it feel in your body to menstruate?
How does it feel emotionally for you to menstruate?
What does your cycle mean to you?
Why am I interested in going on the pill in the first place? What are my other options?
How much will it cost? How do I get refills? Am I able to consistently get refills?
Remember, you have options. While experimenting with birth control it’s important to keep track of how your body reacts, both mentally and physically, to the pill. If there is something that feels not quite right don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions, or switch. There are tons of options out there and you’re not stuck to a brand or form of birth control—birth control is a totally personal and flexible decision
Are there specific populations that Aubra is best for?
Both combination birth control pills, (like Aubra) and progestin-only birth control pills are helpful for alleviating endometriosis pain. Treating the symptoms of endometriosis is personal and some folks may respond better to combination birth control pills rather than progestin-only and vice versa. It is important to note that while hormonal birth control can ease symptoms, it does not heal endometriosis.
If you have a thyroid issue, like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or hormonal imbalances, it’s important to make sure that you mention this to your healthcare provider. Even if you do not have a thyroid disease or hormonal imbalance, taking birth control pills can affect your thyroid or throw your natural hormones out of whack.
If you are breast/chestfeeding, progestin-only pills are recommended (typically 6 weeks postpartum) over combination birth control because the chances for blood clots/ strokes are higher after giving birth, (and combination birth control generally has a higher risk for blood clots than progestin-only). Additionally, there are some theories that estrogen can deplete milk supply.
Written by: Moriah Engelberg, health education enthusiast.
Medically reviewed by: Danielle LeBlanc, RN