You want to take charge of your family planning through birth control, but now you’re faced with a wide range of options. To help you find the best solution for your unique situation, it’s important to understand the many approaches to preventing an unwanted pregnancy.
We believe that education is key in making important decisions like these, which is why our team here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, under the direction of Dr. Fernando Otero, has pulled together the following primer on hormonal birth control.
Here’s a quick look at everything you need to know about hormonal birth control to help you make the right decision for your needs.
Starting with the egg
During normal cycles, your ovaries release eggs for fertilization and your uterus prepares itself to host an embryo. These monthly events are prompted by several different hormones, including estrogen hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones.
Through certain types of hormonal birth control, which typically includes various combinations of estrogen and progestin, the goal is to stop or reduce ovulation. This means that you won’t produce eggs that are viable for fertilization.
The thick and thin of hormonal birth control
While ovulation is one of the primary targets of hormonal birth control, it’s not the only one. Certain hormonal birth control options prevent pregnancy by thickening your cervical mucus to prevent sperm from getting through, while others thin your uterine lining to discourage implantation of an embryo.
Hormonal birth control methods
There are many ways to deliver hormones to your body, including:
- Birth control pills
- Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- Vaginal rings
In most cases, these delivery methods offer a 99% efficacy rate at preventing pregnancy, but some of these rates can drop if you don’t use your birth control properly. For example, skipping birth control pills can lower your protection, which is why many women choose less-hassle options like pellet implants or an IUD.
Side effects of hormonal birth control
Since hormonal birth control methods take a more systemic approach to birth control, some women report side effects -- some good, some bad. Let’s start with the good.
Some women report the following benefits of hormonal birth control:
- Reduced acne
- Fewer migraines
- Weight loss
- Shorter periods
- Less cramping
Another benefit is reduced risk of ovarian and uterine cancer.
Some women, however, report negative side effects, including:
- Increased migraines
- Weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Mood changes
Still others report no changes whatsoever when they’re using hormonal birth control methods.
The good news is that if you're among those who experience negative side effects, all you need to do is stop using the hormonal birth control, at which point we can help you find another option.
If you’d like to learn more about hormonal birth control and whether it’s right for you, we invite you to contact one of our two offices in McAllen and Edinburg, Texas, to set up a family planning consultation.