Is There a "Best" Method of Birth Control?
Remember, no method works perfectly for everyone!
In recent years, there’s been a lot of debate about hormonal vs non-hormonal birth control options. Is there a “best” method? Or a “correct” answer about what the “best” method is? The answer is, of course not! No one birth control method will always work for all people. Birth control, like many other aspects of life, is a journey.
That said, you may have questions about what method is right for you: one with hormones, or one without? A provider at your nearest The Right Time health center can collaborate with you to determine that. In the meantime, here’s some information on hormones that might help.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are, essentially, chemicals made in one part of a living thing that travel to another part, affecting it. Though there are many sex hormones, the most common are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
For people with ovaries, during puberty the body begins to make estrogen and progesterone in large amounts.
While estrogen and progesterone aren’t the only hormones involved in a menstrual cycle, they are the two that cause either a period or a pregnancy. Both increase approximately ten times over the course of a few days around the time an egg is released from the ovary. The amount of estrogen and progesterone an individual makes and the timing in which amounts increase changes from cycle to cycle depending on lots of factors such as age, health, and stress level.
How Does Hormonal Birth Control Work?
The hormones in some methods of birth control are like the ones bodies make on their own—close enough that the body recognizes them as estrogen and progesterone. There are multiple kinds of hormonal birth control, each with unique ingredients that are released differently and do different things. For example, the main way hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy is by thickening cervical mucus so sperm can’t get through the cervix to meet with an egg. The levonorgestrel (or progestin hormone) that the IUD releases is one of the longest-studied types of progestin, and all the scientific evidence to date shows it’s super safe. These progestin hormones vary in strength, but even the highest levels of progestin in these methods of birth control are lower than the average levels the body produces during the natural monthly cycle.
Hormonal Contraception vs Non-Hormonal Contraception
Everyone’s body is unique and a method that doesn’t work for one person might be perfect for another. That means it’s difficult to make a blanket statement about how hormones impact people in general.
Plus, studies on the relationship between sex hormones in people with ovaries and potential side effects often have mixed results. So, what are some of the reasons that people prefer hormonal or non-hormonal contraception?
Hormonal methods of birth control can help:
- Reduce or eliminate heavy or painful periods.
- With acne.
- With ovarian cysts.
- Control gender dysphoria.
Side effects experienced by some folks when using hormonal contraception include:
- Sore breasts.
- Changes to sex drive.
Many side effects fade as a person’s body adjusts to a new method, so it can be worth holding out for around six months to judge if things improve or even out.
Hormonal contraception is safe to use for any length of time, but it’s not for everyone. Those who prefer a non-hormonal birth control option have several to choose from; the copper IUD is the most effective, but there are also condoms, the diaphragm, and fertility awareness methods.
Folks can choose from 18 categories of FDA-approved birth control methods, but not all methods are right for everyone all the time. When you visit your nearest The Right Time health center, you can trust that you and your provider will work together to determine the right method for you, and that you’ll be able to get that method for free or at a low-cost, that very same day. Make an appointment today.
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