Hormonal birth control revolutionized contraception and sex more than 50 years ago. But people who can’t swallow pills were largely left out of the revolution. Chewable birth control levels the playing field, ensuring everyone can safely and easily prevent pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about this more inclusive contraceptive option.
Why Typical Birth Control is Not Safe to Chew
You might think you can just crush up or chew a typical birth control tablet. But chewing swallowable pills can make the pills both dangerous and ineffective. That’s doubly true for hormonal birth control, which slowly releases a steady stream of hormones to suppress ovulation.
Chewing swallowable pills can lead to an overdose, increase the risk of interactions with other medications, or simply make the pills ineffective. There’s no way to predict how your body will react, especially if you take other medications. So if you can’t swallow standard birth control pills, you cannot take them.
Chewable Birth Control Options
In 2006, the FDA approved the drug Femcon Fe as the first chewable birth control. As a nice bonus, it had a spearmint flavor–sweetening your breath and preventing pregnancy. Femcon was recently discontinued, though not because it’s unsafe or ineffective. Fortunately for those who hate swallowing pills, nearly a dozen alternative chewable tablets are now available.
You’ll need to take chewable birth control pills with a glass of water on an empty stomach to get the best results.
How Chewable Birth Control Works
Chewable birth control uses two hormones, estrogen and a synthetic form of progesterone, to prevent ovulation. If you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. These pills also thicken cervical mucus to decrease the chances of implantation if you do ovulate. This is exactly how other birth control pills work, making chewable tablets just as effective. They also offer the same health benefits, such as a reduction in heavy periods, managing symptoms of endometriosis, and making your cycles more predictable.
With perfect use, chewable birth control is very effective. Make sure you carefully follow the package instructions and take it at the same time each day.
If you miss a pill and have sex, consider using Plan B (the morning after pill) to reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.