The science

Choosing your birth control is a science, not an art. 

How does birth control work?

Hormonal birth control, like “the pill”, introduces synthetic versions of the estrogen and/or progesterone hormones. These synthetic hormones prevent pregnancy by (1) suppressing ovulation and/or (2) thickening cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering the uterus1.

These diagrams show how natural levels of estrogen and progesterone cycle over time and how they are altered by synthetic estrogen and progesterone. However, as is frequently the case with diagrams of complex biology, this isn’t the full picture. These hormone levels represent averages, which means that hormone levels actually differ from person to person.

As you can see, selecting a birth control isn’t one-size fits all; adyn is offering a smarter, more personalized approach.

How many birth control options exist?

Contraception is broadly classified as hormonal or non-hormonal. Non-hormonal forms, like condoms* or the copper intrauterine device (IUD), don’t rely on changing your hormone levels2. In addition, there are nearly 200 hormonal contraceptive options in the US (see 🍩 donut graphs!). The majority of these are oral contraceptives, but alternate technologies have also been created to deliver hormones.

How are they different?
Birth controls differ not only in their delivery method, but also in the active ingredients (combinations and chemical formulations of hormones), the amount of hormone (dose), and whether the dose is constant or variable over time. Certain methods contain only synthetic progesterone including: the shot, implant, hormonal IUD and the mini-pill.

But the rest are basically the same?
Not exactly. The FDA considers generic vs. brand name oral contraceptives to be interchangeable; however, based on clinical practice the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognizes that there may be differences even within pills that are expected to behave identically3

The options are overwhelming—adyn provides clarity to help you make the best choice.

Why do most women try 4+ birth control methods?

It’s important.
Choosing a birth control is challenging for many reasons. Not only are there hundreds of options, but not all options are equally effective at preventing pregnancy. The reliability varies from 1-24 pregnancies per 100 women in a year—and that’s only if you use it perfectly4.

It’s medicine.
Hormonal contraceptives offer a wide variety of health benefits. 33% of teen pill users exclusively take it for non contraceptive purposes6 and 70% of all pill users cite health benefits—including period management, treatment for acne, anemia, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and many other conditions8—as a reason for use7. The pill even lowers risk of endometrial cancer by 30%9 and risk of ovarian cancer by 30-50%10-12

But sometimes it sucks.
The #1 reason that individuals switch birth control is side effects5; ranging from annoyances like acne to life threatening blood clots. Between 20 and 40% of hormonal contraceptive users, report switching due to side effects13. 52% of women try 4+ methods of birth control (and this doesn’t even count trying multiple versions of the pill!)5 and many settle for the least unsatisfactory option.

Birth control is both a medicine and a means to attain your reproductive goals. adyn takes the trial and error out of finding the best birth control for you.

Side effects are personal.

Let’s imagine that you’re allergic to peanuts... When you’re exposed to peanuts, you might have a mild set of symptoms like a stomach ache and runny nose. But another person with this allergy might experience itchy eyes and hives, while a third person has a severe life-threatening reaction with problems breathing, low blood pressure, and throat swelling. Why does the same exposure to peanuts result in very different allergic reactions?

While scientists don’t know exactly why this happens for a peanut allergy, they do know that it’s due to individual differences in our biology (and environment), including genetic (DNA) differences that explain about 20% of cases15.

These differences in biology are also why you and your best friend can take the same birth control pill and have completely opposite experiences. 

Hormonal birth control affects everybody differently. We examine the biological factors that make you uniquely predisposed to specific side effects and recommend accordingly.

Different drugs have different side effect profiles.

A drug side-effect is any effect other than the intended therapeutic effect, whether beneficial, neutral or harmful. Nearly all drugs can cause unpleasant side effects such as nausea or allergic reactions in some people. Before a drug can be prescribed, the FDA balances whether its benefits outweigh its side effect risks. 

Graph
This graph demonstrates that each birth control has a different drug-specific side effect profile. You can see which side effects occur and how frequently each is observed across drugs. Spoiler alert: no birth control option has zero reported side effects.

Everybody should have access to reliable contraception without adverse side effects. adyn empowers you to choose your contraceptive, by balancing how effective, easy, beneficial or harmful each method is for you.

A new standard of care.

Now that you’ve seen the status quo, let’s show you how birth control should work. Click here to learn more about the science behind adyn's Birth Control Optimization Test.

Notes
*Bonus: The condom also offers protection against sexually transmitted infections like HIV15. However, this dual protection option falls in the 3rd least reliable category of contraception and thus are frequently used in combination with a more reliable contraceptive.
References
1Rivera, R., Yacobson, I., & Grimes, D. (1999). "The mechanism of action of hormonal contraceptives and intrauterine contraceptive devices." The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 181(5 Pt 1), 1263–1269. http://doi.org/10.1016/s0002-9378(99)70120-1

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). "Reversible methods of birth control." Retrieved on November 29, 2016 from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/

3Committee on Gynecologic Practice, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2007). "ACOG Committee Opinion No. 375: Brand versus generic oral contraceptives." The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, 110(2 Pt 1), 447–448. http://doi.org/10.1097/01.AOG.0000263922.08190.3b

4Trussell J, Aiken ARA, Micks E, Guthrie KA. "Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations." In: Hatcher RA, Nelson AL, Trussell J, Cwiak C, Cason P, Policar MS, Edelman A, Aiken ARA, Marrazzo J, Kowal D, eds. Contraceptive technology. 21st ed. New York, NY: Ayer Company Publishers, Inc., 2018.

5Daniels, K., & Jones, J. (2013). "Contraceptive methods women have ever used: United States, 1982-2010."

6Jones, R.K., "Beyond Birth Control: The Overlooked Benefits Of Oral Contraceptive Pills". Guttmacher Institute. 2011. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/beyond-birth-control-overlooked-benefits-oral-contraceptive-pills

7"Noncontraceptive Benefits of Birth Control Pills". American Society for Reproductive Medicine. 2011. https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/noncontraceptive-benefits-of-birth-control-pills/

8Bearak JM and Jones RK, "Did contraceptive use patterns change after the Affordable Care Act? A descriptive analysis, Women’s Health Issues." 2017, 27(3):316–321, doi:10.1016/j.whi.2017.01.006.

9
Michels KA, Pfeiffer RM, Brinton LA, Trabert B. "Modification of the associations between duration of oral contraceptive use and ovarian, endometrial, breast, and colorectal cancers." JAMA Oncology 2018; doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.4942

10IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Pharmaceuticals. "Combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans" 2012; 100A:283-311.

11Havrilesky LJ, Moorman PG, Lowery WJ, et al. "Oral contraceptive pills as primary prevention for ovarian cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Obstetrics and Gynecology 2013; 122(1):139-147.

12 Wentzensen N, Poole EM, Trabert B, et al. "Ovarian cancer risk factors by histologic subtype: An analysis from the Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium." Journal of Clinical Oncology 2016; 34(24):2888-2898.

13Skouby, S. O. (2010). "Contraceptive use and behavior in the 21st century: a comprehensive study across five European countries." The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, 15(sup2), S42-S53.


14Yuka Asai et al. "Genome-wide association study and meta-analysis in multiple populations identifies new loci for peanut allergy and establishes c11orf30/EMSY as a genetic risk factor for food allergy." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.09.015

15Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). "Reversible methods of birth control." Retrieved on November 29, 2016 from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/)