If you are not ready to have children, you need to think about hormonal contraception. When appropriately used, hormonal contraceptives are incredibly effective. However, hormonal contraceptive methods each have their own pros and cons. Before you decide which contraceptive option you prefer, you may want to consider the pros and cons of different hormonal contraceptives.
What Is Hormonal Contraception?
Hormonal contraceptives of any kind — the pill, the patch, the vaginal ring, the implant — all work by delivering a small number of hormones into your body. The hormones include synthetic (or artificial) estrogen and progestin hormones. Your ovaries produce the natural forms of these hormones.
The estrogen and/or progestin in hormonal contraception will prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg. Without an egg, sperm have nothing to fertilize. Depending on the makeup and formulation of the hormones in the particular contraceptive, it can prevent pregnancy by:
- Preventing ovulation, which means your ovaries do not release an egg.
- Thickening the cervical mucus, making it difficult for the sperm to go through the cervix and find an egg.
- Thinning the uterine lining, making it difficult for a fertilized egg to implant itself in the uterus.
- Some combination of the above.
Pros Of Hormonal Contraception
In addition to the convenience of hormonal contraceptives, you may find other benefits of using a hormonal contraceptive. They include:
Reduces Premenstrual Symptoms
Certain hormonal contraceptives can help to alleviate unpleasant premenstrual symptoms. Some women struggle with symptoms like moodiness or physical complaints like cramping or bloating during the week before their period. This is referred to as premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is an extreme form of premenstrual syndrome. The use of hormonal contraceptives may alleviate these uncomfortable symptoms.
Lighter Or No Periods
With many hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, patches or vaginal rings or progestin-based IUDs like Mirena and Kyleena, you will likely experience lighter and shorter periods. Some women have no periods at all after a few months of using a hormonal contraceptive. They can also help to alleviate painful menstrual cramps for many patients.
Interruption Of Intercourse
Once you are certain you are not pregnant, you can begin using hormonal contraceptives at any time. If you begin using them within the first five days of your period, you do not need additional contraceptives. However, if you begin using them more than five days after your period started, you need to abstain from sex or use another form of contraceptive protection for seven days.
With hormonal contraceptives, you can engage in intercourse without interrupting it for purposes of preventing pregnancy.
May Reduce Risks Of Cancer
Research shows that using hormonal contraceptives may decrease your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer. These contraceptives may also provide some protection from noncancerous growths. These benefits may be offset somewhat by the possible increased risk of breast cancer, although the risk of breast cancer due to birth control use is likely very low.
Effective Methods Of Birth Control
Hormonal contraceptives are the most effective form of birth control, second only to abstention. Their effectiveness depends entirely on their proper use. For example, the Nexplanon hormonal implant is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy for three years once it is implanted– the woman never has to do anything else. However, the birth control pill loses its effectiveness significantly if the woman forgets to take a pill for a single day.
Cons Of Hormonal Contraception
Certain hormonal contraceptives may not be appropriate for women with certain health conditions. Those include heart disease, high blood pressure, deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism, tumors or breast cancer, abnormal vaginal bleeding, liver or kidney problems, along with others. It is very important to discuss this with your health care provider before beginning hormonal contraception. Your health care provider may want to conduct additional testing before prescribing you a hormonal contraceptive.
Does Not Protect Against STDs
Hormonal contraceptives do not protect against STDs. If you plan to have sex with multiple partners, you need to use a condom for protection against STDs.
Possible Side Effects Can Be Associated
Hormonal contraceptives can cause side effects in some women. They may interfere with certain prescription medications and dietary supplements. They can also cause moodiness, breast tenderness, weight gain, and acne. However, some women report an improved mood and an improved complexion while using hormonal contraceptives. The side effects seem to be unique for each woman.
If the side effects are too severe, your health care provider may recommend that you switch brands or use another form of hormonal contraception.
Hormonal Contraceptives Depend On Proper Use For Optimum Effectiveness
The effectiveness of the hormonal contraceptive depends entirely on proper use. For the pill, that means the woman must take it every day. The patch must be replaced every week. For the ring, the woman must replace it every month. The effectiveness of those devices is impaired by human error. Other forms of hormonal contraceptives, like Nexplanon and IUDs, are longer lasting without the woman having to do much of anything to remain protected against pregnancy.
Talk With Raleigh Gynecology And Wellness About Hormonal Contraception
The women’s health experts at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness are available to discuss the various types of hormonal contraception with you and answer any of your questions about their safety and effectiveness based on your health profile. Contact them today to schedule an appointment.