Birth Control 101: Hormonal Methods

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Find the best hormonal birth control for you, part 3.

Hormonal birth control uses hormones like estrogen, progestin or both to keep the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also makes the cervical mucus thicker to help block sperm from getting to the egg.

There are many different types of hormonal birth control:

  • The Pill
  • The Patch
  • The Shot
  • The Ring

Some IUDs, along with the birth control implant, are also types of hormonal birth control.

The Pill

The pill is an oral birth control that needs be taken once a day at the same time every day. Depending on the hormone level of the pill and your body, taking the pill even an hour late may cause spotting.

There are two types of pills: combination and progestin-only.

Combination pills use an estrogen and progestin combo. A monthly pack contains three consecutive weeks of hormone-based pills (also known as active pills) and a week of placebo pills. The placebo pills are meant to give a week for a period to occur.

Combo pills can be monophasic (have the same hormones each week in the active pills) or multiphasic (hormones change from week to week in the active pills).

Progestin-only pills, also known as mini-pills, have no estrogen. They work by giving off a small amount of progestin every day of the month and don’t give a week for a period.

Before starting birth control pills, you’ll need to talk with a healthcare provider to determine what’s best for you and your needs.

Quick Facts to Keep in Mind

Effectiveness:  Perfect Use: Greater than 99%            Typical Use: 91%

  • Does not protect against STIs, including HIV
  • Easy to use
  • May get more regular / lighter periods
  • Some pills clear up acne
  • Can reduce cramps
  • Can cause sore breasts, stomach aches, vaginal spotting or decreased sex drive
  • May lead to weight gain

The Patch

The patch is a square piece of plastic that sticks to the skin like a bandage. It works like the pill, but it needs to be changed once a week for three weeks of the month. On the fourth week, it shouldn’t be worn.

The patch can be worn on the butt, stomach, upper outer arm or upper torso. To get the patch, you must first talk with a healthcare provider.

Quick Facts to Keep in Mind

Effectiveness:  Perfect Use: Greater than 99%            Typical Use: 91%

  • Does not protect against STIs, including HIV
  • Easy to use
  • May clear up acne
  • May get more regular / lighter periods
  • Can reduce cramps
  • Can cause sore breasts, stomach aches, vaginal spotting or bleeding

The Shot

The shot is a hormonal birth control method that contains the hormone progestin and is given every three months. A healthcare provider gives the shot in-office.

Quick Facts to Keep in Mind

Effectiveness:  Prefect Use: Greater than 99%            Typical Use: 94%

  • Does not protect against STIs, including HIV
  • Easy to use
  • May get more regular / lighter periods
  • Can cause vaginal spotting or bleeding
  • May make you feel hungrier than usual
  • May lead to weight gain

The Ring

The ring is a small piece of flexible plastic that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks at a time and taken out for the fourth week to allow a period to happen.

There are two types of rings to choose from: a disposable ring and a long-lasting ring. For disposable rings, a new one is used every month. It is placed inside of the vagina for three weeks and on the fourth week, it is removed and thrown away.

The other option is a new, long-lasting birth control ring that can be used for an entire year. This ring is placed in the vagina for three weeks, then removed and cleaned on the fourth week.

Quick Facts to Keep in Mind

Effectiveness:  Perfect Use: Greater than 99%            Typical Use: 91%

  • Does not protect against STIs, including HIV
  • Easy to use
  • May get more regular / lighter periods
  • May clear up acne
  • Can reduce cramps
  • Can cause sore breasts, stomach aches, vaginal spotting or bleeding

Ready to take control of your sexual health? Find an FHCCP healthcare provider near you by visiting KeepRelationshipsReal.com.


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