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Birth Control: Pros and Cons of Hormonal Methods - Topic Overview

Progestin-only pills, implant, or shot

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections or HIV
  • Causes more irregular periods or spotting between periods
  • May not be as effective when taken with certain medicines
  • Makes diabetes more likely if you have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy1
  • Progestin-only pills are less effective than combination pills, but the shot and implant are extremely effective.
  • Pills must be taken at the same time each day.
  • Implant may cause menstrual periods to stop or be very light.
  • Implant must be inserted and removed by a trained health professional.
  • Implant may cause headaches.
  • Shot may delay return of normal cycles for 6 to 8 months after the medicine is stopped, but there is no delay with pills or implant.
  • Shot may increase the risk of chlamydia or gonorrhea infection among women who are sexually exposed to these bacteria.2
  • Shot causes slight weight gain.
  • Shot may decrease levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.
  • Shot causes bone mineral loss, so calcium supplementation is necessary.
  • Using the shot for 2 or more years can cause bone loss, which may not be fully reversible after stopping the medicine. This concern may be greatest during the teen years, when young women should be building bone mass.3
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