Hormonal Methods

Hormonal methods work to prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones that basically trick your body into thinking you’re already pregnant. When used properly, they provide protection 24/7, so you don’t need to do anything special before or during sex. They’re super effective and discreet, helping make your birth control one less thing to worry about.

They require a prescription, and sometimes a doctor’s help with insertion, so make sure to talk to a healthcare provider about what’s best for you. And if you’re very sensitive to changes in hormone levels, you might want to stick to barrier methods, or check out the copper IUD.

Contraception consultations are available at Student Health Services.

what's great about hormonal_barrier-resized_thumb.jpg  What’s great about hormonal methods

what might not work hormonal and barrier-resized_thumb.jpg  What might not work for you

consider when choosing hormonal and barrier_thumb.jpg  Consider when choosing

Pill-bottle-spilling_thumb.jpg  Types of hormonal methods

pill_thumb.jpg  The Pill 101


Types of hormonal methods

The Shot: 98% effective; a shot that protects you for three months at a time. You can see a doctor or inject yourself at home.

The Pill: 95% effective; take one pill at the same time every day for as long as you want to be protected. For information about what to do if you forget a pill, check out this page from Planned Parenthood.

The Patch: 91% effective; a small patch that sticks to your skin and needs to be changed weekly. Every fourth week, go patchless.

The Ring: 91% effective; a flexible ring that you insert into your vagina, leave for three weeks, and then go one week without.

*  all efficacy rates refer to pregnancy prevention and are based on typical use

What’s great about hormonal methods:

  • Incredibly effective at preventing pregnancy
  •  Low-maintenance and low-stress--nothing to worry about in the heat of the moment
  • Less prone to user-error
  • Sometimes come with positive side effects, like shorter periods or clearer skin.

What might not work for you:

  • Don’t provide protection against STIs--make sure you’re getting tested or also using barrier methods
  • Require a prescription and, in some cases, a doctor’s visit
  • Cost varies depending on insurance coverage
  • Changes in hormone levels might cause negative side effects, like decreased libido

Consider when choosing:

  • How long do I want to be protected?
  • What am I going to do about STIs?
  • How often do I want to think about my birth control?
  • Am I sensitive to hormones?

The Pill 101

  • If you forget a pill, you can take two pills the next day. If you miss more then one day continue to the pill as usual be sure to use backup contraception (condoms) for one week
  • You can start the pill immediately on the first day of prescription. You do not need to wait for a period. Use backup contraception for one week
  • Follow the instructions on the pack. The pills will have between 3-7 days of “sugar pills” per month. Start a new pack when you are finished with the “sugar pills” even if you are still on your period. You may be able to skip the sugar pills and not get a period but you should talk to your doctor.  
  • Use a reminder system to help you remember the pill everyday (phone alarm, put by toothbrush, bedsider has a reminder app)
  • There are many different types of pill with different doses and types of hormones. If you don’t like the side effects of one pill, talk with your doctor about switching to another type.
  • People often worry about taking antibiotics with the birth control pill. The only antibiotic that has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of the pill is Rifampin to treat TB