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.

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