What is the Difference Between Hormonal and Nonhormonal Birth Control?

Happy Woman

Thanks to scientific advances, there are various birth control options available. But how can you choose the best method for you?

All Contraception is Either Hormonal or Non-Hormonal

All contraception options fall into two categories: hormonal and non-hormonal. Understanding the differences between these two options is key to selecting a method. You will be able to make the best choice for your lifestyle and body.

For example, if you want continuous protection or have a particular health condition like fibroids, endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal birth control is better because it can improve your health. However, if you prefer to choose when you are protected against pregnancy or do not need the hormones to help your condition and worry about side effects, then non-hormonal birth control is the way to go.

Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal birth control methods release hormones that alter the body’s chemistry to prevent pregnancy. Depending on the hormone it contains, it either prevents implantation by thinning the uterus lining, prevents ovaries from releasing eggs or prevents sperm from reaching an egg by thickening cervical mucus.

There are several options, including short-acting forms like pills (daily), patches (weekly), vaginal rings (monthly) shots (every three months) or long-acting protection (years) like implants and hormonal IUDs. They all provide continuous protection against pregnancy, but not sexually transmitted diseases.

Aside from being convenient, many women have an additional health-related reason to opt for hormonal birth control. It can reduce menstrual cramps, acne and mood swings, lighten or regulate the cycles and reduce ovarian cysts. Some forms can even eliminate periods.

Non-Hormonal Birth Control

Non-hormonal forms of birth control offer on-demand protection from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. They work by forming a physical barrier that stops sperm from entering the uterus. Some also work by creating an environment that prevents successful egg fertilization – but these options do not protect against diseases.

Non-hormonal birth control options include condoms, diaphragms, sponges, cervical caps, cervical shields, IUDs, spermicide and an acid-based vaginal gel. None of these make hormonal changes to the body. In addition, there is a permanent non-hormonal option (tubal ligation) if you are sure you will never want to conceive.

These options are ideal for women who prefer not to override their natural menstrual cycle and need protection from pregnancy only at times.

The “Best” Birth Control Option Does Not Exist Because Every Body is Different

Every woman’s body is different. Therefore, every person will have their own “best” birth control option. What works for some does not work so well for others. Ultimately, your needs and lifestyle will dictate which method is best for you.

At Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A., we offer a variety of hormonal and non-hormonal birth control methods. Our practitioners can help you determine your “best” form of contraception. Contact our Marietta Contraception Methods Experts today to get more information about all the hormonal and non-hormonal birth control options available.