A Guys Guide to Hormonal Contraception
While gearing up with a condom is the only measure guys can take to prevent pregnancy, girls have a few more options. Perhaps you heard of “the pill” or “the patch.” But if you’re having sex – or even thinking about having sex – hearing about “the pill” and “the patch” isn’t good enough. You have to understand what “the pill” and “the patch” are, what their limitations are, and what you can do to adapt to those limitations.
“The pill,” and “the patch,” are types of hormonal contraception. These types of contraception are available only with a prescription.
Unlike condoms and other barrier contraception that work by blocking the transfer of fluids between partners, if used correctly, hormonal contraception works by releasing hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are chemicals made by our bodies and a certain amount of certain hormones will prevent a woman from ovulating and make it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. Without ovulation and without sperm entering the uterus, a woman cannot get pregnant. In some women, some hormonal birth control methods also reduce acne, the risk for some cancers and symptoms and complications resulting from menstruation.
It’s important to remember that hormonal contraception does not protect from STDs. So even if your partner is on “the pill” or “the patch,” you should still use a condom.
Here’s a rundown on hormonal contraception (women use only one of these methods at a time):
- The pill: Birth control pills must be taken every day and certain birth control pills must be taken at the same time every day to effectively reduce the chances of pregnancy.
- The patch: The patch is worn directly on the torso, abdomen, upper arm or buttocks for week long periods. A new patch must be applied immediately after patch is removed to effectively reduce the chances of pregnancy.
- The ring: A vaginal contraception ring is a ring of about two inches around that is self-inserted in the vagina and left in place for three weeks. A new ring must be inserted one week after a ring is removed to effectively reduce the chances of pregnancy.
- The shot: An injection of the hormone progestin reduces the risk of pregnancy for three months. After three months, another shot is needed to effectively reduce the risk of pregnancy.
For hormonal contraception to protect against pregnancy, it must be used correctly. The bottom line: Because hormonal contraception is not currently available for men, the only way for a man to be sure he’s preventing pregnancy is to use a condom. And even if hormonal contraception is used correctly, using a condom further reduces the chance of pregnancy – and, unlike hormonal contraception, protects against STDs, too.
In addition to hormonal contraception, women have the option of preventing pregnancy with barrier methods, long-term implanted devices and emergency contraception. These methods, like hormonal contraception, do not protect against STDs. That’s why it’s important to always use a condom.
Now that you know about different contraception methods, plan a visit to one of our reproductive health centers. While having sex won’t make you any more of a man, if you are having sex, using condoms and getting screened for STDs regularly will.