Women have different needs when it comes to birth control. Both hormonal and non hormonal types of contraception are available. Non hormonal types of contraception, such as condoms and spermicidal agents, are usually available without a prescription. An appointment is required to fit for a diaphragm.  Hormonal contraception has many forms to meet individual needs; from pills to patches to rings and injections.
Appointments may be scheduled with a health care provider to discuss your specific needs and the type of contraception that may meet those needs.

Often, an exam may not be required to get you started on a form of contraception.  Call 848-932-7402 for an appointment, or click here to access the online scheduling tool.


Types of Hormonal Contraception:

The Pill
The Pill contains estrogen and progestin. The Pill works by suppressing ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary). No egg means no fertilization. The Pill comes in a monthly or a 3 month pack and is taken daily. The menstrual bleeding you experience while on the Pill (or any hormonal contraception for that matter) is not really a menstrual period. The bleeding is in response to the withdrawal of the hormones. In the case of the Pill, this occurs when the inactive pills at the end of the pack are started. With the one month pack, a “period” occurs every month, whereas with the 3 month pack, the pill is taken continuously for 3 months so that your “period” occurs only four times a year. Many studies have been done which show this is a safe and effective regimen.
According to RU National College Health Assessment data (2006), the Pill is the most commonly used type of birth control at Rutgers. When used correctly, the Pill is 99.9% effective; only three women in 1000 will unintentionally become pregnant. In fact, it’s one of the most effective non-surgical methods when used consistently and correctly. Unintentional pregnancy associated with the Pill happens most often after a woman stops using the Pill and has unprotected sex without using another birth control method.
The Pill is available by prescription and often the cost of the prescription is less expensive when filled at the Rutgers Health Services Pharmacy.

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The Patch
“The Patch” is the Ortho Evra Transdermal Patch- a smooth beige transdermal square (about the size of a mini-post-it) that you put directly on your buttock, abdomen, or upper outer arm. “Transdermal” means that the estrogen and progestin are absorbed through your skin into your blood stream.
The Patch works much the same way as the Pill and is equally effective. It contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. It has a 99.2% success rate when used correctly. With typical use, eight out of 1000 women will unintentionally become pregnant while using the Patch.
Unlike the Pill, each Patch is worn for one week, for 3 weeks out of 4 weeks. You apply and change the Patch yourself weekly on the same day of the week. This gives you 3 weeks with the Patch and one week without to allow for your “period.”
The Patch only comes in one color, beige, so it is noticeable on most women’s skin. Some women report skin irritation (20%) where the Patch is adhered. This can be avoided by switching the location of “the Patch each week.
There is a higher steady state of hormones due to continuous absorption, so that a woman will be exposed to more estrogen-related risks over the 3 weeks of patch use compared to the Pill.

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The Ring
The Ring, or Nuvaring, is not as scary as it may sound. It is a 2-inch, soft, flexible, transparent ring that you insert into your vagina. It contains estrogen and progestin that are absorbed through the skin of the vagina. The Ring prevents pregnancy in the same way as the Pill does. The Nuvaring is 99.2%effective. About eight out of 1000 women using the Ring will unintentionally become pregnant.
The Ring has a 4-week schedule: 3 weeks with the Ring and one week without. It is similar to inserting a tampon into your vagina. After 3 weeks, the Ring is removed to allow for a “period.”

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Depo Provera
Depo Provera is commonly known as “The Shot.” It is an injection of synthetic progestin (no estrogen) into your shoulder or buttock that prevents pregnancy for 12 weeks. Only one shot is needed every three months to prevent pregnancy.
Depo Provera prevents ovulation, thickens cervical mucus, and thins endometrial tissue (the lining of your uterus). Depo Provera is 99.7% effective when used correctly and consistently. Only three in 1000 women will become pregnant unintentionally in the first year of use.
The Shot may cause a loss of the monthly period; this usually occurs after the third shot. Irregular bleeding patterns which are usually light may occur at any time. Fertility may be delayed for up to a year after stopping the Shot. Because the risk of bone loss in women who use the Shot for more than 2 years maybe significant, adequate daily calcium intake is important.

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Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
An IUD is a t-shaped plastic device that either contains progesterone or no hormones at all. It does not contain estrogen. The IUD prevents pregnancy by preventing fertilization. It is inserted into the uterus and can stay in place for 3-5 or 5-10 years (depending on the device). About 75% of women continue to use the IUD at one year, which is higher than seen with the Pill or Depo Provera. The IUD is a prescription birth control and is inserted by a health care provider. Contrary to popular belief, the IUD can be used by women who have never had children!

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Potential Benefits of Hormonal Contraception:

Using hormonal contraception has other potential benefits. Each method has its own specific positives but in general:


  • Decreased risk of breast cysts, ovarian and uterine cancer, as well as the incidence of ovarian cysts
  • Sexual intercourse can still be spontaneous
  • May help improve acne
  • Hormonal methods are reversible-meaning that once you stop taking/using them, you can become pregnant
  • Regulates your period and reduces menstrual cramps. Lighter periods
  • Consistent contraceptive protection!!!

Potential Disadvantages of Hormonal Contraception:

As with all medicine, there are possible side effects of hormonal contraception. Make sure to inform your health care provider that you are using a form of hormonal contraception- especially if other medications are being prescribed. Not everyone will experience the same side effects, and some women will have severe or frequent side effects, while others will have minor or moderate ones. Side effects can include:


  • Spotting or bleeding between periods (called “breakthrough” bleeding)
  • Appetite changes
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness or fullness
  • Mood changes, irritability, depression
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Hormonal changes can result in vaginal itching, increased vaginal discharge and possible vaginitis
  • Headaches
  • Skin irritation (with the Patch)


Hormonal contraception DOES NOT protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Most side effects usually clear after 2-3 months of using the particular method. If symptoms persist after 3 months, talk with your health care provider to discuss alternative methods.

To learn more about contraception:  click here