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Hormonal Birth Control Explained

Hormonal Birth Control Explained

Hormonal birth control has been an amazing advancement in reproductive health in the last century. With all the incredible advancements, there are now patches and pills and IUDs, oh my! Picking the right birth control for you can be an overwhelming task, so we’re here to give you the rundown on different forms available.

Finding the right form of birth control can be trial and error, so be patient if your first choice isn’t a perfect fit. Your prescribing doctor can help guide and support you.

Hormonal Birth Control

Pros:

  • Pregnancy prevention
  • Managing menstrual cycle disorders
  • Managing pelvic pain disorders
  • Reducing ovarian cysts
  • Treating hyperandrogenism
  • Reduced cancer risk (ovarian and cervical)
  • Supporting bone health

Cons:

  • Do not protect against STIs as no hormonal birth control is a barrier method
  • Depletes the body of key nutrients

What forms of birth control are available and what could be right for you?

For more information check out this great resource from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada for more information, but here is a quick breakdown:

Oral Contraceptive Pill

  • Pros:
    • Extremely flexible, with many types on the market with different doses and dosing strategies, you can find tailor your preferences to find the best pill for you
    • Combined pills (include estrogen and progestin) tend to be effective acne treatments
  • Cons:
    • Highly effective when used properly, but taking a pill daily can be a burden, and accidentally skipping days can reduce pill effectiveness

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

  • The device is planted inside the uterus and releases progestin locally to provide contraception
  • Pros:
    • Once implanted, the device can stay for 3-10 years and no further action is required of the user
    • One of the most effective forms of birth control
    • Cost-effective
  • Cons:
    • Insertion can be painful and a small risk of infection with insertion
    • Causes irregular bleeding
    • High upfront cost
    • Progestin-only forms of birth control can cause ovarian cysts, acne, headaches, unwanted hair growth

Ring

  • The ring is inserted into the vagina and replaces monthly (NuvaRing) or annually (Annovera)
  • Estrogen and progestins are released locally to exert contraceptive actions
  • Pros:
    • No daily burden
  • Cons:
    • Efficacy is reduced with user error (e.g. incorrect placement)
    • Some people may not feel comfortable inserting the ring
    • Rings need to be removed every 3 weeks for 1 week

Patch

  • A patch is placed on the skin every week for 3 weeks, followed by a patch-free period
  • The patch can be placed on the buttocks, stomach, back, or upper arms
  • Pros:
    • No daily burden
    • Easy to use
  • Cons:
    • Efficacy is reduced with user error (e.g. not replacing patches in 7-day intervals)
    • May be less effective in people who weigh over 90 kg
    • May irritate the skin

Injection

  • Progestin is injected every 3 months to provide long-lasting contraception
  • Pros:
    • Only dosed every 3 months
    • Also used as a treatment for endometriosis with different dosing
  • Cons:
    • Requires visits to the clinic every 3 months
    • Return to fertility after discontinuing use takes longer than other forms of hormonal birth control
    • Causes a decrease in bone mineral density (may return to normal when discontinued)
    • Has the strongest link to weight gain compared to other forms

Implant

  • Placed in the upper arm just under the skin and provides highly effective contraception for up to 3 years
  • Pros:
    • One of the most effective forms of birth control
    • Long-term solution with no daily burden
  • Cons:
    • Some discomfort and bruising with insertion

Top Up Tonic

If you experience any of these side effects or want to be proactive about preventing side effects, Top Up Tonic will be your new BFF! It contains all of the vitamins and nutrients hormonal birth control strips from the body to prevent side effects and mitigate long-term risks.

You don’t have to choose between birth control and feeling like the best version of yourself.

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