Font Size

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control

Definition and facts about hormonal methods of birth control

Patient Comments
  • "The pill" was introduced in the United States in 1962 and signaled the beginning a new era for women, as they were now able, for the first time, to reliably control their fertility.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pill represents the leading birth control method used by US women younger than 30 years of age. Longer-acting implants, injections, rings, and patches that employ hormones to prevent ovulation or to create a hostile environment for sperm are also available.
  • There are several types of hormonal birth control methods, for example:
  • Side effects of hormonal methods of birth control depend upon the method, but may include:
  • No birth control method is 100% effective.
  • Birth control does not protect a person from contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • The ultimate decision of which birth control method to use is best made by each individual woman in consultation with her health-care professional. Each method has risks, benefits, advantages, and disadvantages.

Birth control pills

Birth control pills, also known as oral contraceptives, have been marketed in the United States since 1962. Over the past 40 years, the type of estrogen and progestin (hormones) used in the pills has been altered and the amounts/potencies of hormones in these products has been decreased.

Birth control pills today are designed so as to enhance safety and reduce side effects. Lower doses of estrogen are associated with a decrease in side effects, such as weight gain, breast tenderness, and nausea.

Birth control pills are taken by mouth and swallowed with a liquid. Several types of birth control pills are chewable. These pills contain the same hormones, progestin and estrogen, that are present in standard birth control pills. Some packages contain 21 active pills and 7 inactive pills to be taken throughout one menstrual cycle. You may chew the pills or swallow them whole. If you chew the pill, you should drink eight ounces of water afterward to make sure the full dose is absorbed from your stomach. The chewable version has similar side effects to other birth control pills, such as an increased risk for blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2016
Medical Author:

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hormonal Methods of Birth Control :

Birth Control Hormomal Methods - Experience

What kind of hormonal birth control method have you or your partner used? Was it effective?

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control - Patch

Please share your experience with the birth control patch. Have you had any side effects? Is the patch comfortable to wear?

Hormonal Methods of Birth Control - Injections

Please share your experience with using injections to prevent pregnancy.

What Are Your Birth Control Options?

For the individual woman, the ability to effectively control when and whether she becomes pregnant affects her ability to achieve her own goals and contribute to her sense of well-being. A woman's choice of birth control method involves factors such as how easy it is to use, safety, risks, cost, and personal considerations. There are a variety of types and options to prevent pregnancy, and include:

  • Spermicides
  • Barrier methods (condoms, dental dams)
  • IUDs
  • Hormonal methods (the pill, patch, ring, etc.)
  • Emergency contraception
  • Permanent methods (tubal ligation and vasectomy)
  • Behavioral methods (abstinence, natural family planning)

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Contraception »

The practice of contraception is as old as human existence.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary