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Birth Control Bingo: What's the Right Hormonal Method for Me?

Part of Scarleteen's Birth Control Bingo. Need to go back a question? Or start over?

On the previous page, you said you ARE comfortable with a HORMONAL METHOD, know or suspect you don’t have any health issues or sensitivities which would not allow you to use a hormonal method, and are willing to deal with hormonal side effects, which may include things like breast tenderness, nausea, mood changes, breakthrough bleeding, vaginal dryness, and libido/arousal problems.
AND You are prepared to have to regularly and consistently administer and pay for a birth control method (or have it covered by my insurance or health plan) on a very specific schedule, and are able to use a method for which you need a prescription.

Now we just need to help you figure out which hormonal method or methods would be the best choices for you.

Let's start with health issues first. Some hormonal methods are a combination of estrogen and progestin, while others are progestin-only. While the differences between different types of those two kinds of hormonal methods can make, say, one combination method okay for a person while another is not, there are some basic issues which usually make a combination method or a progestin-only method a better or safer choice for most users.


For those who don't have any issues with estrogen, why might someone prefer a method with estrogens? Hormonal methods which include estrogen do not tend to cause unpredictable bleeding or spotting as non-estrogen hormonals can, tend to cause less weight gain than hormonal methods that are progestin-only, estrogen can help with certain kinds of acne, help to regulate monthly bleeding and provide some other benefits for some women.

DO YOU:

  • smoke (and plan to continue smoking, or know you can't commit to quitting yet)
  • have migraine headaches
  • breastfeed an infant currently
  • know you are sensitive to estrogens
  • or have you had bad side effects with hormonal methods which contain estrogen before?

If ANY of the above are true for you, click here. Methods with estrogens are probably not the best choice for you, so you might consider hormonal methods without it first.

If NONE of the above are true for you, or you prefer a method with estrogen, keep reading this page.


If NONE of the above are true for you, you can consider hormonal methods which contain estrogens as well as those who do not. Many women who can use methods with estrogens prefer them because of some of the benefits they can provide, like the reduction of certain kinds of acne or regularity in vaginal bleeding.

Let's get an idea of what method is most likely to work with your lifestyle, skewing you first to methods which are made most available for younger people, and which also may pose the fewest health risks to you. Click whichever of the following two statements applies most to you:

I CAN think about and remember my hormonal birth control daily. I'm confident I can do so at around the same time every day, without missing days
AND I have NO reservations or problems with taking pills, including not having to sneak taking my pill, which might put me at a higher risk of missing pills.

If the above statement is most true, click here to see if the Pill may be the right method for you.

OR

I do NOT think I can think about and remember my hormonal birth control daily. I am NOT confident I could do so at around the same time every day, without missing days: I would prefer a hormonal method that I have to remember less often, weekly, monthly or even less often than that
AND/OR I DO have difficulty taking pills, or may have to sneak taking my pill, which might put me at a higher risk of missing pills sometimes
OR I either know I don't like any kind of birth control pill, or want to consider other hormonal methods.

If this statement is most true, keep reading.


Sounds like the pill wouldn't be a good fit for you. The pill is very effective, but only when it is taken properly, and the way it usually fails is because users forget to take pills every day. With younger people, typical use rates are usually lower than they are for older folks because it can be even tougher for teens than for adults to remember pills daily. Obviously, if you know you probably can't use a method properly, it's not going to be a good choice for you. That's okay, you have more hormonal options: let's figure out which of those might be best for you.

Take a look at the following two groups of options, and choose which sounds most like you.

I AM comfortable touching my own genitals, and would do fine with a device I need to put in and have inside my vagina
AND I have NOT had problems with recurring or frequent vaginal infections
AND I CAN remember to change my method once a month
AND I want my birth control to be 100% private to those who aren't my sexual partner; having it be possibly visible to others on my body isn't something I'm okay with
AND/OR I have sensitive skin.
OR I prefer a method with very low estrogen.

If this statement is true for you, click here to take a look at the Vaginal Ring

OR

I AM uncomfortable with touching my genitals, and would NOT do well with a device I need to put in or have inside my vagina
AND I HAVE had problems with recurring or frequent vaginal infections
AND I CAN remember to change my method once a week
AND I am okay with my birth control not being 100% private; having someone other than my sexual partner possibly see it on my body does not put me off
AND I do NOT have sensitive skin
AND/OR I am okay with or prefer a method with higher amounts of estrogen.

If this statement is most true for you, click here to consider the Contraceptive Patch

Neither of those descriptions sound like you? That's okay, you still have some more hormonal options, so keep reading.


If you ARE okay with or prefer:

  • the possible suppression of your periods and/or irregular and/or unpredictable bleeding or spotting, especially since it may remove the usual way you'd know if you became pregnant
  • needles and/or a minor surgical procedure
  • An injection of a method into your body, or a physical device staying in your body
  • having to remember a method anywhere from only every three months to every few years

...then click here.


If any or all of those things DO NOT work for you, AND if none of the options for methods before that last question worked either, then you may want to consider a non-hormonal method. Or, you may want to start over from the top of this page to see if you can't strike a compromise somewhere, such as by being willing to have your method possibly seen by others, to learn to take a method more frequently, or to learn to get comfy with touching your own genitals.

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.