What are the Different Kinds of Hormonal Birth Control Methods?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
A form of birth control, an intrauterine device (IUD) delivers the hormone progestin to the uterus.
A form of birth control, an intrauterine device (IUD) delivers the hormone progestin to the uterus.

Hormonal birth control is a contraceptive system which manipulates the balance of hormones in a woman's body to prevent pregnancy. There are a number of hormonal birth control methods on the market to suit women with a variety of needs. Side effects and efficacy of these methods varies, and women may want to discuss their choices with a doctor before settling on a method which works for them. Hormonal birth control methods also do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.

Most birth control pills come come in 28-day packs.
Most birth control pills come come in 28-day packs.

One of the most well known hormonal birth control methods is the birth control pill. "The Pill" formulates the hormones into a once a day oral dose which must be taken at the same time every day for the best results. Most companies sell the pill in packs of 28, and the dosage changes slightly from week to week to allow women to have a normal menstrual cycle. Some pill packs skip the placebo pills typically taken during the fourth week, allowing women to skip their periods.

The birth control patch is another hormonal method. The patch delivers low doses of hormones directly through the skin, using a patch which is worn for three weeks and then removed. Many women enjoy using the patch because it does not require daily attention, and it is a very low dose method, for women who are concerned about side effects. However, this method does have the disadvantage of getting slightly ragged by the end of the third week, thanks to daily wear.

The Nuva Ring is also a low dose hormonal birth control option. It is inserted directly into the vagina, where it delivers a very low dose of hormones for three weeks before being removed. Most women do not feel the Nuva Ring while they wear it, and it is one of the more unobtrusive hormonal birth control methods. Some women are squeamish about it at first, but the insertion process is very easy. Women can also ask a medical professional to insert a long-term hormonal Intra-Uterine Device into the uterus.

Another method for delivering hormones is the shot. Several pharmaceutical companies manufacture hormonal birth control for injectable use. These shots are given at varying time intervals, depending on the manufacturer. After a quick office visit, the woman does not have to think about birth control again until she is due for her next shot. A variant on the shot is an inserted capsule of hormones which is embedded in the skin, most typically in the arm. This is a very long term method of hormonal birth control, an excellent choice for women who know that they do not want to have children in the near future.

If a woman decides that she wants to have a child, she can stop taking hormonal birth control and be fertile again within one to six months. Different hormonal birth control methods can vary widely, in terms of how long it takes to become fertile again. In some cases, doctors recommend that women use condoms for several months, to avoid birth defects associated with residual hormones in some cases.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • A form of birth control, an intrauterine device (IUD) delivers the hormone progestin to the uterus.
      A form of birth control, an intrauterine device (IUD) delivers the hormone progestin to the uterus.
    • Most birth control pills come come in 28-day packs.
      Most birth control pills come come in 28-day packs.