Thankfully, more and more options have come out for birth control in recent years. However, it can feel overwhelming and confusing to try and choose the option that is best for your body. Plus, almost all birth control options affect your period so here is a brief overview of the different options and how your period might change as a result.
*Make sure to speak with your doctor when deciding which birth control is right for you.
Birth Control Implant (Nexplanon) - 99% effective
This birth control is a small rod about the size of a match that is inserted into your arm. It releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant. It can be left in for up to 5 years and does not require any maintenance.
When you first get the implant you may experience spotting for up to 6-12 months and in rare cases, in can make your flow heavier. However, most of the time your flow will lighten with 1 in 3 people not having a period after the first year (don’t worry, it’s safe). It can also help with cramping and other PMS symptoms.
IUD - 99% effective
There are two types of IUDs. One uses copper to prevent pregnancy and lasts up to 12 years and the other uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and lasts anywhere from 3-7 years depending on the brand. After the insertion of the IUD it is common to experience cramping and bloating but this should only last a few days.
The hormonal IUD typically has positive side affects on your period. It often becomes lighter and many people experience decreased cramping and other PMS symptoms. However, it does often make periods much more irregular and spotting in between periods may occur.
The copper IUD can cause worsening cramps, a heavier flow and irregular periods. This is especially common during the first 3-6 months after getting it inserted. Spotting between periods is also common.
Birth Control Shot - 94% effective
The birth control shot is a shot of the hormone progestin that prevents you from getting pregnant. You must get the shot every 3 months (or 12-13 weeks) in order for it to remain effective. The shot can cause nausea, weight gain, headaches, sore breasts and depression. However, these side effects typically go away within 2-3 months.
The shot can cause spotting or make you bleed more days than usual. You may also skip your period all together. These side effects are most common during the first year of getting the shot.
Birth Control Vaginal Ring - 91% effective
The birth control ring is a small and flexible ring that is inserted into your vagina. It releases hormones into your body that prevent pregnancy. There are two brands: NuvaRing and Annovera. One NuvaRing lasts up to 5 weeks so it needs to be switched out monthly. An Annovera ring is in the vagina for 3 weeks and then taken out for 7 days. One ring lasts for one year. Some people may experience sore breasts, headaches, nausea and other side effects but these typically go away within 2-3 months.
The ring often will result in a lighter and more regular periods. However, at first there may be some spotting and inconsistent periods. Some people even use the NuvaRing to safely stop their period all together. It can also help to ease cramps and other PMS symptoms.
In addition to these, the ring also can help with acne, iron deficiency, cysts in your breasts and ovaries and certain cancers!
Birth Control Patch - 91% effective
The patch is placed on your body on either your stomach, butt or back (or upper arm for one of the brands). It releases hormones into your body that prevent you from getting pregnant. The patch is changed once a week and has to be changed on the same day each week. After three weeks, you don’t wear a patch for one week so you can have your period and then resume wearing the patch again.
The side effects of the patch and the effect on your period is the same as the ring. Typically negative side effects will go away within 2 to 3 months and it can be used to help lighten or eliminate periods as well as help with cramp pain. Also like the ring it can help with acne, iron deficiency, cysts in your breasts and ovaries and certain cancers.
Birth Control Pill - 91% effective
There are many different brands of birth control pills so it’s important to work with your doctor to find the best fit for you. Birth control pills are taken every day. They have hormones in them that prevent pregnancy. The birth control pill has the same side effects as the patch and ring. There are some negative side effects but they will typically go away within 2-3 months.
It often helps with period symptoms among other things. In fact, many people take the pill specifically to help treat cramp pain or a heavy flow. People also use birth control to help treat acne and anemia, among other things.
A common myth about birth control is that the hormones can make you gain weight. This is not true. Studies have shown that this is not a side effect of the pill, patch or ring. However, the shot and the implant do have the possibility of causing weight gain.
*Other birth control methods such as condoms, sperm gel, outercourse/abstinence, etc. were not included in this list because they have no effect on your period.