Hormonal Methods of Birth Control
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- Introduction to birth control
- Types of hormonal methods of contraception
- What are advantages and disadvantages of hormonal birth control methods?
- Oral hormones: The pill
- What are the side effects of the pill?
- How is the pill taken?
- How long will it take before the pill prevents conception?
- What drugs or conditions reduce the effectiveness of the pill?
- What are the benefits of taking the pill?
- When will my I start having periods again after I quit taking the pill?
- Injection: depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA)
- Contraceptive patch: Ortho-Evra
- Contraceptive implants
- Vaginal ring: NuvaRing
- How effective are hormonal birth control methods?
- Find a local Obstetrician-Gynecologist in your town
Introduction to birth control
If a woman is sexually active and she is fertile, meaning that she is physically able to become pregnant, she needs to ask herself, "Do I want to become pregnant now?" If her answer is "No," she must use some method of birth control (contraception).
Terminology for "birth control" includes contraception, pregnancy prevention, fertility control, and family planning. But no matter what the terminology, sexually active people can choose from a variety of methods to reduce the possibility of their becoming pregnant. Nevertheless, no method of birth control available today offers perfect protection against sexually transmitted infections (sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs), except abstinence.
In simple terms, all methods of birth control are based on either preventing a man's sperm from reaching and entering a woman's egg (fertilization) or preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the woman's uterus (her womb) and starting to grow. New methods of birth control are being developed and tested. And what is appropriate for a couple at one point may change with time and circumstances.
Unfortunately, no birth-control method, except abstinence, is considered to be 100% effective.
Types of hormonal methods of contraception
There are several different hormonal methods of birth control. The differences among them involve
- the type of hormone,
- the amount of hormone, and
- the way the hormone enters a woman's body.
The hormones can be estrogen and/or progesterone, or preparations that contain a combination of these hormones. These hormones may be taken orally (taken by mouth), implanted into body tissue, injected under the skin, absorbed from a patch on the skin, or placed in the vagina. The mode of delivery determines whether the hormonal exposure is continuous or intermittent.
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