Hormone Versus Barrier Birth Control — Understanding Your Options

If having children just isn’t in the cards for you right now, the good news is that there are plenty of ways you can prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Truth be told, the sheer number of choices can be a little daunting. 

At Shelnutt Gynecology, under the experienced direction of Dr. Judson Shelnutt, our team provides birth control counseling (as well as the birth control itself) to help our clients find the best solution for their goals. Because of the dizzying array of options, we find it helpful to first divide birth control into categories to help you narrow your choices.

Here, we discuss two of the main categories in birth control — barrier and hormonal — to get you pointed in the right direction.

Two very different approaches

To prevent an unplanned pregnancy, sperm must be stopped from reaching and fertilizing your eggs. This can be accomplished in one of two ways through birth control:

Barrier method

With the barrier method, as the name implies, you stop sperm from reaching your eggs. There are many different birth control methods that achieve this, including:

Another option that falls under this category is a vasectomy, but this option is one that your male partner uses.

Hormonal method

Another way to prevent your eggs from being fertilized is to control your ovulation, which we can do hormonally. If you want to use a hormonal method of birth control, your choice comes down to delivery method, which includes:

Each of these options releases hormones, usually progestin and estrogen, into your body to control your ovulation.

While barrier and hormonal birth control methods make up the lion’s share of options, abstinence, outercourse, and fertility awareness can also prevent pregnancy.

Deciding on an approach

Choosing a birth control option often comes down to several important factors, including your:

For example, if you’re looking for a birth control option that offers the best protection and the least amount of hassle, an IUD is an excellent choice. Whether you use a hormonal IUD or copper IUD, we simply insert the device into your uterus, where it quietly does its job until you need to replace it or want it removed. IUDs last anywhere from 3-12 years.

Or, perhaps you’d rather not tinker with your hormones or you don’t respond well to hormonal controls. In these cases, we recommend confining your research to barrier methods, which require a bit more effort and vigilance on your part since you have to put them in place before intercourse.

It’s important to note that the only birth control options that protect you against STDs are condoms and abstinence.

Ultimately, finding the right birth control for your unique situation and goals comes down to personal preference. If you’d like to sit down with us to discuss your options, we invite you to contact our office in Athens, Georgia, by phone or online to set up an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Hormone Therapy for Hot Flashes

Hot flashes and night sweats affect up to 80% of women experiencing menopause, some more than others. If you’re struggling with frequent hot flashes that disrupt your life, explore how the answer may lie in hormone therapy.

5 Possible Causes of Irregular Periods

Life is unpredictable enough without having the hassle and inconvenience that come with irregular periods. Here’s a look at some of the more common causes of irregular periods and how we might restore order.

When PMS Is Problematic

PMS is extremely common among women of childbearing age, which is why the acronym has even become a verb. For some, however, PMS goes far beyond some minor discomfort and bloating, leading to serious quality-of-life issues.

10 Tips for Managing Menopause Symptoms at Work

For many women, menopause is a challenging time impacting all portions of your life, including work. Not sure how to cope with menopausal symptoms at the office? Here are some tips for dealing with these changing times while you're at work.

What Do I Do If My Pap Smear Results Were Abnormal?

Pap smears are a vital part of your well-woman exam. They are proven to detect cervical cancer and other conditions early, allowing for better, faster treatment. Were your Pap smear results abnormal? Here’s what you should know.