Everything you need to know about birth control hormones and types of birth control

We got you covered with testimonials, info on other birth control options, and the truth about common birth control myths.

We got you covered with testimonials, info on other birth control options, and the truth about common birth control myths.

Hear real women talk about their experience with the pill

Find the best birth control for you

You have a lot of options when it comes to a prescription birth control that fits your plans for now and your plans for later. Click on each card to learn more about that option

card-pills

Oral contraceptives
(The Pill)

Helps regulate periods
  • Taken by mouth once a day every day
  • Up to 99% effective, but as low as 91% if 1 or more pills are accidentally skipped
  • Taken around the same time every day
  • Headache and nausea may occur initially, but usually go away
card-gel

Contraceptive gel

Does not help regulate periods
  • Inserted into the vagina with an applicator
  • Up to 93% effective, but mistakes are common and most women experience around 86% efficacy
  • Must be used up to 1 hour before sex
  • Possible side effects include burning, itching, and yeast infections, as well as localized discomfort for your partner
card-patch

Contraceptive patch

Helps regulate periods
  • A new patch is applied every week for 3 weeks
  • Up to 99% effective, but around 91% with typical use, which includes misuse
  • Each thin adhesive patch works for 1 week—during week 4, you take a break and don’t wear a patch
  • Headache and nausea may occur initially, but usually go away
card-ring

Contraceptive ring

Helps regulate periods
  • Inserted into your vagina and must be monitored—it’s possible for the ring to fall out
  • 99% effective, but as low as 91% effective with typical use, which includes misuse
  • Ring can be left in for up to 4 weeks, depending on the brand
  • Headache and nausea are common. The ring can also cause yeast infections
card-implant

Hormonal implants

Help regulate periods
  • Inserted and removed during procedures done at your healthcare provider’s office
  • Over 99% effective
  • Depending on the brand, an implant works for 3 or 5 years
  • Pain during the procedure is common, and there is a minor risk of complications. Some women stop getting their periods with the hormonal options
card-iud

Copper intrauterine device (IUD)

Does not help regulate periods
  • Inserted and removed during procedures done at your healthcare provider’s office
  • Over 99% effective
  • Effective for up to 10 years
  • Pain during the procedure is common, and there is a minor risk of complications. Many women with the copper IUD get heavier, longer periods and more cramping
Learn about what it's like to take the birth control pill

Oral contraceptives
(The Pill)

Helps regulate periods
  • Taken by mouth once a day every day
  • Up to 99% effective, but as low as 91% if 1 or more pills are accidentally skipped
  • Taken around the same time every day
  • Headache and nausea may occur initially, but usually go away
Learn about contraceptive birth control gel

Contraceptive gel

Does not help regulate periods
  • Inserted into the vagina with an applicator
  • Up to 93% effective, but mistakes are common and most women experience around 86% efficacy
  • Must be used up to 1 hour before sex
  • Possible side effects include burning, itching, and yeast infections, as well as localized discomfort for your partner
Learn more about the contraceptive patch

Contraceptive patch

Helps regulate periods
  • A new patch is applied every week for 3 weeks
  • Up to 99% effective, but around 91% with typical use, which includes misuse
  • Each thin adhesive patch works for 1 week—during week 4, you take a break and don’t wear a patch
  • Headache and nausea may occur initially, but usually go away
Learn about the contraceptive birth control ring

Contraceptive ring

Helps regulate periods
  • Inserted into your vagina and must be monitored—it’s possible for the ring to fall out
  • 99% effective, but as low as 91% effective with typical use, which includes misuse
  • Ring can be left in for up to 4 weeks, depending on the brand
  • Headache and nausea are common. The ring can also cause yeast infections
Learn about hormonal implants like IUDs and arm implants

Hormonal implants

Help regulate periods
  • Inserted and removed during procedures done at your healthcare provider’s office
  • Over 99% effective
  • Depending on the brand, an implant works for 3 or 5 years
  • Pain during the procedure is common, and there is a minor risk of complications. Some women stop getting their periods with the hormonal options
Learn about the copper IUD

Copper intrauterine device (IUD)

Does not help regulate periods
  • Inserted and removed during procedures done at your healthcare provider’s office
  • Over 99% effective
  • Effective for up to 10 years
  • Pain during the procedure is common, and there is a minor risk of complications. Many women with the copper IUD get heavier, longer periods and more cramping
Learn about what it's like to take the birth control pill

Oral contraceptives
(The Pill)

Helps regulate periods
  • Taken by mouth once a day every day
  • Up to 99% effective, but as low as 91% if 1 or more pills are accidentally skipped
  • Taken around the same time every day
  • Headache and nausea may occur initially, but usually go away
Learn about contraceptive birth control gel

Contraceptive gel

Does not help regulate periods
  • Inserted into the vagina with an applicator
  • Up to 93% effective, but mistakes are common and most women experience around 86% efficacy
  • Must be used up to 1 hour before sex
  • Possible side effects include burning, itching, and yeast infections, as well as localized discomfort for your partner
Learn about the contraceptive birth control ring

Contraceptive ring

Helps regulate periods
  • Inserted into your vagina and must be monitored—it’s possible for the ring to fall out
  • 99% effective, but as low as 91% effective with typical use, which includes misuse
  • Ring can be left in for up to 4 weeks, depending on the brand
  • Headache and nausea are common. The ring can also cause yeast infections
Learn more about the contraceptive patch

Contraceptive patch

Helps regulate periods
  • A new patch is applied every week for 3 weeks
  • Up to 99% effective, but around 91% with typical use, which includes misuse
  • Each thin adhesive patch works for 1 week—during week 4, you take a break and don’t wear a patch
  • Headache and nausea may occur initially, but usually go away
Learn about hormonal implants like IUDs and arm implants

Hormonal implants

Help regulate periods
  • Inserted and removed during procedures done at your healthcare provider’s office
  • Over 99% effective
  • Depending on the brand, an implant works for 3 or 5 years
  • Pain during the procedure is common, and there is a minor risk of complications. Some women stop getting their periods with the hormonal options
Learn about the copper IUD

Copper intrauterine device (IUD)

Does not help regulate periods
  • Inserted and removed during procedures done at your healthcare provider’s office
  • Over 99% effective
  • Effective for up to 10 years
  • Pain during the procedure is common, and there is a minor risk of complications. Many women with the copper IUD get heavier, longer periods and more cramping

Rachna S, 37, real Balcoltra woman

Common hormone Q&A's

Odds are, you may have had some of these questions about hormonal birth control. Click each question to reveal the answer!

A: Lots of things you consume may slightly increase your risk of cancer, but hormonal birth control may not be one of them. Most studies show that taking hormonal birth control doesn’t add to the risk of you developing breast cancer over your lifetime. In fact, hormonal birth control may lower your risk of ovarian, uterine, and colon cancers. Be sure to tell your doctor about any of your concerns or family history of cancer to be sure you make the right choice for you.

A: Some women actually experience weight loss when they start hormonal birth control. But all that really says is everyone responds differently. Although it’s rare, some women gain a little bit of weight at the beginning while the body adjusts. This weight gain is likely from water retention, not extra fat. Be sure to tell your doctor if you notice rapid or extreme changes in weight after starting any new medication.

A: Some women may take a little while to return to their normal cycles after stopping hormonal birth control, so it’s not surprising that you may worry about fertility. But several medical studies have found that women who stop taking birth control get pregnant at just about the same rate as women who’ve never taken it.

A: Everyone will have a different experience with hormonal birth control, just as they would with any other type of prescription medicine. Some women say hormones help their mood, particularly if they have premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Some studies show that some women experience mood swings with hormonal birth control, especially if they have a history of depression. That’s why it’s important to tell your doctor about any concerns you have before starting hormonal birth control.

A: The truth is that the things you find attractive in a mate aren’t affected by hormonal birth control. This myth is based on some studies that looked for a pattern between how attracted women were to different faces and body odors (yes, really) and whether the women were on hormonal birth control or not. These studies have gotten a lot of media attention over the years, but other scientists say the studies were flawed for being too small and too specific. A bigger, long-term study found birth control didn’t influence attraction. So don’t worry—taking hormonal birth control isn’t going to make you suddenly less attracted to your crush.

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