Hormonal Methods of Birth Control

Some types of birth control use hormones to prevent pregnancy. Hormones are made by the body to control its functions. Most hormonal methods of birth control keep a woman's body from releasing an egg each month. If your body does not release an egg (ovulate), you cannot get pregnant. Some methods thicken the mucus in front of the cervix and prevent sperm from getting into the uterus.

There are many types of hormonal methods. They are safe and work very well when used as directed. Hormonal methods of birth control prevent pregnancy about 99% of the time if they are used consistently and correctly. Hormonal methods of birth control do not protect against STDs.

Oral contraceptives

Often referred to as the "pill," these are the most popular hormonal method. You have to take a pill around the same time every day. The pill may make menstrual periods lighter and more regular and cramps less painful. They also may improve acne.

Vaginal ring

The ring is a flexible plastic ring that is placed in the vagina. It is worn inside the vagina for 21 days and then removed for 7 days. Then a new ring is inserted.

Birth control shot

This injection (depot medroxyprogesterone acetate [DMPA]) is given in the upper arm or buttock every 3 months. The birth control shot is a good choice for people who have trouble remembering to take a daily pill.


The implant is a small plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin of the upper arm. It protects against pregnancy for 3 years.