Hormonal contraception vs non-hormonal contraception – What’s the right fit for you?

It was World Contraception Day on Sunday, 26 September and while researching this awareness day we came across some shocking global statistics related to contraception. Globally, since the start of the pandemic there’s been 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies linked to disruptions in the supply of contraception and clinics closing. Although we’re still in the midst of a serious pandemic and no industry has been untouched by it, it’s still completely unacceptable for people to not have access to birth control!

In light of this, we decided to highlight different contraceptive methods in this week’s blog post especially the one’s that aren’t as well-known like diaphragms or vaginal rings. When it comes to something like birth control there’s really no one size fits all, and it’s often just trial and error to see what works best for your body and lifestyle. Below we have some of the most common (and not so common) hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods. Please always consult with a medical professional when you start using birth control or switch to a different birth control.

What is hormonal birth control?

Hormonal contraception alters the chemical balance of the body’s hormones to prevent pregnancy from taking place. Depending on the type of hormonal birth control that’s used it can either work by preventing the eggs from being released from the ovaries, thickening cervical mucus which prevents the sperm from reaching the egg, or thinning the line of the uterus to prevent implantation.

Hormonal birth control has been known to have side effects depending on which option you choose. Some side effects include weight gain, lower sex drive and the risk of blood clots increase significantly. There are some positive side effects too such as having less painful periods, some hormonal birth control also prevents you from menstruating (which will be welcomed by many), you’re less prone to acne and it can be used to help with conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, cysts and fibroids.

What hormonal birth control options are there?

  • Birth control pill: Definitely one of the most widely used contraception methods. This must be taken daily and at the same time each day. You can ask your doctor for a prescription or get it at your nearest pharmacy.
  • Hormonal IUD: An intrauterine device is a tiny T-shaped device that’s inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can reduce menstruation or stop menstruation altogether.
  • Patch: These stick onto your body and must be replaced once a week. It releases hormones into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy.
  • Injection: This must be administered every 12 weeks and slowly releases hormones into the body over a 12 week period.
  • Vaginal ring: This is flexible and transparent, and is inserted into the vagina. It works for three weeks by slowly releasing hormones that prevent pregnancy.

 

What is non-hormonal birth control?

This is great for people who have health conditions which prevent them from using hormonal birth control options. It’s also an excellent option if you just don’t want the side effects that are very likely to come with hormonal birth control. So, instead of creating chemical and hormonal changes within the body they create physical barriers to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.

What non-hormonal birth control options are there?

  • Cervical caps: This prevents sperm from entering the uterus by creating a barrier on the cervix. It’s attached to the cervix and is made from medical-grade silicone. It’s reusable and has a strap attached to it for easy removal. It’s only effective if used in conjunction with spermicide.
  • Condoms: This is the only birth control method that prevents pregnancy and STI contraction.
  • Copper IUD: This works just like the hormonal IUD, except it doesn’t release hormones. Instead the copper repels sperm from entering the uterus.
  • Sponges: This is a disk-shaped device that contains spermicide which kills sperm. Before penetrative sex it’s inserted into the vagina so that it covers the cervix so sperm can’t pass the cervix and enter the uterus. The sponge also has a strap attached to it for simple removal.
  • Diaphragms: This is a small, rubber or medical-grade silicone cup that has a flexible rim. It’s placed over the cervix and like the sponge is placed inside the vagina so part of the rim fits behind the pubic bone. It must also be used in conjunction with spermicide.