Hormonal Birth Control Options
Here’s the deal: Your body naturally produces hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal birth control options use different forms of synthetic hormones (that mimic your natural ones) to affect your cycle in ways that may help prevent pregnancy.
The side-effect list is not exhaustive.
Combined oral contraceptive (COC) pill
You probably know someone on a birth control pill, as it’s very widely used. The combined oral contraceptive (COC) contains both estrogen and progestin.
How it works
- Helps prevent the ovary from releasing an egg.
- May change the cervical mucus slowing the movement of the sperm through the mucus and through the uterus.
- May change the lining of the uterus.
How it's taken
A birth control pill is taken orally, daily. Certain pills require a few pill-free days, while others include a few days of placebo pills, allowing for a period to occur.
Highly effective when taken as prescribed.
- May reduce the risk of ovarian cysts.
- May reduce the incidence of ovarian and uterine cancers.
- May reduce menstrual flow and cramps (lose less blood).
- Menstrual cycle may be more regular.
- May cause a decrease in painful menstruations and in premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Effectiveness may be reduced by other medications.
- May cause irregular bleeding/spotting.
- May cause breast tenderness, nausea/vomiting, headaches, change in weight, acne, itching/rash, dizziness, mood changes, vaginal infection, urinary track infection, back/abdominal pain, upper respiratory tract infections, painful menstruations.
- Must be taken every day, at about the same time.
- Puts the user at higher risk of blood clots (including blood clot in legs, lungs, heart, eyes or brain).
- Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious adverse effects on the heart and blood vessels. This risk increases with age and with the number of cigarettes smoked. Women who use birth control pills should not smoke. COC should not be used by women who are over 35 years of age and smoke.
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. Use a condom when you have sex and take your birth control pills.