Choosing the right birth control method can feel like navigating a maze. With so many options, it can be hard to know which type of birth control to turn to.
Understanding the key differences between the two most common types of birth control is a great place to start. The board-certified OB/GYN team at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG is here to provide reliable, accurate information about barrier and hormonal birth control options.
Whether you’re new to birth control or considering switching methods, this guide can help you make an informed decision.
Barrier method birth control and how it works
Barrier method forms of birth control are exactly what they sound like — they create a physical barrier to block sperm from reaching an egg. They're simple to use and hormone-free, and some forms provide additional protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
To prevent pregnancy and stay protected from disease, you must use this method every time you have sexual intercourse. The effectiveness of barrier method birth control varies by type and whether they’re used correctly. Some common types and effectiveness include:
- Diaphragm (up to 88% effective) and sponges (about 76-88% effective)
- Male (up to 85% effective) and female (up to 79% effective) condoms
- Cervical cap (about 71-86% effective)
This type of birth control is a good option if you prefer a non-hormonal method or if you have a health concern that limits your ability to use a hormonal option. They offer the flexibility of using them only when needed, and they’re good for people who don’t want to take daily medication.
Hormonal birth control and how it works
Hormonal birth control methods use synthetic hormones to prevent pregnancy. These hormones can prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucus to block sperm, or thin the uterine lining to prevent implantation. Common types and their effectiveness include:
- Birth control pills: Daily oral contraceptive with hormones (up to 91% effective)
- Birth control implant: Long-term (up to 5 years) progestin-based device (up to 99% effective)
- Birth control patch: Weekly patch with estrogen and progestin (up to 91% effective)
- Birth control shot: Progestin-based injection administered every 3 months (up to 94% effective)
- Intrauterine device (IUD) with progestin: Long-term protection (up to 7 years and up to 99% effective)
- Vaginal ring: Monthly estrogen- and progestin-based ring (up to 91% effective)
Hormonal methods are highly effective but require more commitment than barrier methods. They can also offer other health benefits like reduced menstrual pain and acne control. However, they might not suit everyone due to potential side effects or health risks.
It’s important to remember that hormonal birth control methods don’t offer protection against sexually transmitted infections. If this is a concern, you’ll need to combine this type of birth control with a barrier method that does, such as condoms.
Selecting the right type of birth control for you
Deciding on a type of birth control is a personal choice. Every individual's situation is unique, and what works for one person may not be ideal for another. You can start by considering the following factors:
- Lifestyle and convenience: Do you prefer a daily pill or a long-term solution like an implant?
- Health considerations: Do you have any existing health conditions that might influence your choice?
- Protection against STIs: Barrier methods offer additional STI protection, unlike hormonal methods.
- Family planning goals: Are you looking for short-term protection or something more permanent?
Discuss these factors with your Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG provider so we can help you find the best fit for your needs. They can offer personalized birth control advice based on your health history, lifestyle, and reproductive goals.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and have this important conversation with one of our board-certified providers. Contact Darin Swainston, MD. FACOG in the Las Vegas office to schedule an appointment today.