All hormonal contraceptives contain a small amount of synthetic estrogen together with progestin (a form of progesterone), or progestin alone. These synthetic hormones work to inhibit the body's natural hormones.
Hormonal birth control acts on the endocrine system to make the body prevent pregnancy: by thickening the cervical mucus to keep sperm from entering the uterus, by thinning the uterine lining to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg cell, or by preventing eggs from being released in the first place—or some combination of the above.
If you are considering hormonal contraception, consult with your doctor to assess any possible risks, as it can interact badly with certain medication, some habits and health conditions.
Short-acting reversible contraceptives, or SARCs, are ingested or applied daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the method. These include the vaginal ring, the skin patch, and the most well-known oral contraceptive—the pill.
Long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, can last weeks, months, even years, demanding relatively little monitoring or upkeep. These include the birth control shot, the contraceptive implant, and the hormonal IUD.
Emergency contraception is meant to be used after unprotected sex or protected sex with compromised primary birth control, such as a torn condom.
Hormonal birth control does not offer any protection against STDs.
What are the pros and cons of different hormonal birth control methods? In which cases would your doctor advise against using hormonal birth control? Read more about Hormonal Birth Control here.