The Pill and Alternatives

Contraception is available in different forms, including a pill, mini-pill (progesterone-only pill), patch, vaginal ring, injection, intrauterine device (IUD), and implantable rod.  There is a non-hormonal IUD available called the Paragard or copper IUD—the remainder of these options are hormonal.

Pill, Patch and Ring

  • The birth control pill, patch, and ring contain two hormones: estrogen and progesterone. The birth control pill is taken daily and depending on the pill used, your period may come monthly, once every three months, or can be skipped completely. There are many different brands of birth control pills including generics.
  • The Ortho Evra patch delivers the same hormones as the birth control pill but does so through your skin. The patch is changed weekly.
  • The Nuva Ring delivers the same hormones as the birth control pill but through the vaginal wall. It is left in place for three weeks. It is taken out the fourth week, during which you get your period.  You also have the option of continuously cycling the ring so that you skip the monthly withdrawal bleeding.

Progesterone-only Methods

Progesterone-only forms of birth control include the Depo-Provera injection, the Nexplanon rod, the mini-pill, and the hormonal IUDs. These methods can be given to breastfeeding mothers and women who have certain medical conditions in which estrogen may not be advised.

  • DepoProvera is an injection that is given every 3 months.
  • Skyla, Kyleena and Mirena are hormone-releasing IUDs. They are placed in your uterus during a quick office procedure.  Skyla is a 3-year device. Kyleena and Mirena last 5 years.  They each have different hormonal doses which can affect how likely you are to get a period. Skyla and Kyleena are smaller in size and may be more comfortable for women who have never been pregnant.
  • Nexplanon is a thin, flexible rod implanted under the skin of your inner, upper arm. It provides birth control for 3 years.
  • The mini-pill or progesterone-only pill is taken once daily.

Copper IUD

The Paragard IUD is an intrauterine copper-releasing device placed in your uterus. It provides birth control for up to 10 years and contains no hormone.

All forms of birth control have different risks and benefits. Effectiveness also varies—the long-acting methods (IUDs and Nexplanon) are the most effective. It is important to choose a birth control based on your medical history. Please contact your provider to discuss your options and choose the best method for you. 

Visit Bedsider.org—a medically accurate resource to help you review your options.