Marla Ahlgrimm R.Ph.

Marla Ahlgrimm | Retired Pharmacist | Leading Expert in Women's Health

Marla Ahlgrimm on Birth Control Options

Marla AhlgrimmFrom the patch to the pill, many women struggle with which birth control option is best for their situation. Here, retired pharmacist and women’s health entrepreneur Marla Ahlgrimm explains the pros and cons of the most common type of contraceptive.

According to Marla Ahlgrimm, the pill comes in multiple forms. A combination product, which is often sold under the brand names Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Yaz, is an effective option for non-smokers under the age of 35. The combo pill is known for helping reduce the symptoms of hot flashes and regulating menstrual cycles. A progestin-only pill, which is most often referred to as the mini pill, is a safer option for smokers and heart disease patients. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that the mini pill may be taken by breast-feeding women as well as diabetics and those with blood clot disorders. The mini pill must be taken at the same time each day.

Seasonale and Lybrel are extended-cycle pill options that can stop a woman’s period for three to 12 months.

Aside from pill-based birth control, there are a number of insertable devices that have proven effective against unwanted pregnancy. The vaginal ring (NuvaRing) contains the same medication as a combo pill but is placed in the vagina for 21 days. It is then removed to allow cycle completion. Like the combo pill, a vaginal ring should not be used by smokers.

One of the most popular non-permanent long-term birth control options is an IUD (Mirena, ParaGard). Marla Ahlgrimm notes these are surgically implanted and, depending on which option is chosen, will prevent sperm from reaching an egg or release hormones to alter a woman’s ability to become pregnant. IUDs are best for women who have already given birth but are reluctant to consider sterilization.

Other forms of birth control include the patch, female condom, and surgical implants. Marla Ahlgrimm suggests that permanent procedures such as tubal ligation and Essure are considered only by women who have had children and are certain their families are complete.


Author: Marla Ahlgrimm

Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm revolutionized the field of women’s health in the 1970s and continues to do so today. After introducing the term “premenstrual syndrome” to the American public in the late 1970s, Marla Ahlgrimm has continued to focus her pharmacy practice over the years to successfully address hormone concerns that affect women as they age. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Marla Ahlgrimm co-founded Madison Pharmacy Associates, and it was there she fine tuned individualized care protocols and prescription medication to optimize a woman’s hormonal health. One of the first hormone issues that Marla tackled was Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS. At that time, there were no diagnosis or treatment options to address the severe symptoms that many women were reporting. As a result of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s intense attention to women’s health, Madison Pharmacy Associates gained a national reputation as an innovative practice. Founded in 1982, Madison Pharmacy Associates was the first pharmacy to special in women’s health in the nation. Thanks to the expertise of Marla Ahlgrimm, Madison Pharmacy Associates became known for the management of PMS. Over the years, Madison Pharmacy Associates evolved with Marla Ahlgrimm’s careful guidance, providing the national PMS Access newsletter, as well as a toll-free line where patients could obtain referrals to physicians who had the expertise to help them manage their symptoms. Marla Ahlgrimm founded Women’s Health America, Inc. in 1993 to help women by providing individualized hormonal medications to address the complex health issues of women and also to provide practical, helpful women’s health information. Over the years, Marla Ahlgrimm’s vision has grown to include Women’s Health America, Madison Pharmacy Associates, PMS Access and Cyclin Pharmaceuticals. In addition to her accomplishments with these landmark organizations, Marla Ahlgrimm is an author, having published two watershed books, The HRT Solution and Self-Help for Premenstrual Syndrome. Marla Ahlgrimm has also been published in numerous national publications, including serving as a columnist for The American Journal of Natural Medicine. Today, the primary work of Marla Ahlgrimm centers on natural hormone therapy, an important area for the large number of women who are menopausal and postmenopausal. Marla Ahlgrimm ’s work is unique because of her focus on individualized, natural hormone therapy options. According to pharmacist, Marla Ahlgrimm, many health issues facing women today are related to hormone changes. Using an individualized approach to therapy, she reports that many women feel reenergized for the first time in years. In addition to recognition in publications and journals, Marla Ahlgrimm has been recognized with a number awards over the span of her career. Some of Marla Ahlgrimm ’s most notable awards have been the YWCA’s acknowledgment of Marla Ahlgrimm as one of its Women of Distinction and recognition by her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as one of its Distinguished Alumni. Above all of the awards and honors, Marla Ahlgrimm finds that helping so many women is the greatest accomplishment of all. In fact, says Marla Ahlgrimm, she still works with some of her very first patients and their doctors. These women once sought the help of Marla Ahlgrimm for PMS, she says, and today she is helping them manage symptoms of menopause and the years that follow.

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