Women are deciding against using hormonal birth control options. Some women find that the side effects they experience are too harsh, while others opt for a hormone-free option like condoms.
Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to stay informed on the reproductive options that are available to you. Here’s a look at the hormonal birth control options available and the pros and cons of their use.
Birth Control Pills
Many women opt for birth control pills because they're easy to use and convenient. Birth control pills usually come in packs with a one month supply and work by stopping sperm from joining with an egg (which is called fertilization). The hormones in the pill stop ovulation. No ovulation means there's no egg hanging around for sperm to fertilize, so pregnancy can't happen. The pill's hormones also thicken the mucus on the cervix, making it harder to get pregnant.
- Easy to use
- Over 90% effective
- Some users have experience weight gain
- Increases your risk of blood clots (especially if you smoke tobacco)
- May increase risk of depression, migraines, and other side effects
These usually come as small plastic rods that are the size of a match stick. They are placed into your upper left arm, right under the skin. From there, they start releasing a hormone called progestin, which is the same hormone you get with birth control pills.
- It has a 99.95% success rate, meaning it’s very effective.
- Fits the needs of those looking a fast-acting method that doesn’t require you to go through a monthly routine
- There’s a possibility that it can lessen the flow and pain of periods
- There’s no need to interrupt sex to apply it
Possible side effects include:
- You need to visit a doctor for insertion and removal
- You may experience weight gain, breast pain, and headaches
- You may experience a change in bleeding patterns
A vaginal ring is small and flexible, at just the size of a coin. Birth control rings are inserted into your vagina, where they slowly releases a dose of hormones into your system.It works by staying in for three weeks and you remove it the week of your period. Vaginal rings can be inserted the same way that you insert a tampon.
There are variants that you dispose of after three weeks, then you get a new one for the next cycle. There are also reusable ones that you wash and store away before reinsertion at the end of the week.
- Easy to use
- Effective (96% - 99%)
- No interruption of sex
- May ease menstrual cramps and acne
Some of the side effects you may experience include:
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal irritation
- You may experience blood clots, especially if you’re a black or other minority ethnic woman.
You may also opt for a hormonal IUD, also known as an intrauterine device. It’s placed inside your vagina during a short procedure. Once settled inside, it starts releasing progestin. The hormonal IUD is effective for three to seven years.
- It’s low maintenance
- It has 99% effectiveness
You may experience side effects including:
- Breast tenderness
- Cramping or pelvic pain
- Mood changes
- The IUD may slip out of place—but that’s rare
Picking a birth control option is a wise thing to do. It can help you avoid unplanned pregnancies, and it’s a good way to take charge of your health. It’s also helpful to learn about the variety of options available so you can make an informed choice about what's best for your preferences and lifestyle.
Above all, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor first so you can get a personalized, professional opinion.