Birth Control: Time-Release Hormones

Healthcare provider showing woman model of uterus.

Certain hormones can help prevent pregnancy. Hormones like the ones used in birth control pills can be taken in other forms. These must be prescribed by your health care provider. Because there’s very little for you to do, you may find one of these methods easier to stick to than pills. Side effects for this method will vary depending on the type of time-release hormone you use. Talk to your health care provider for more information.

Pregnancy Rates

Talk to your health care provider about the effectiveness of this birth control method.

Using Time-Release Hormones

Methods to deliver hormones include:

  • A skin patch placed on your stomach, buttocks, arm, or shoulder. You replace the patch weekly.

  • A ring that you insert in your vagina, leave in for 3 weeks, and remove for 1 week.

  • Injections given in your arm or buttocks once every 3 months by your health care provider.

  • An implant placed under the skin in the upper arm by your health care provider. This can be left in place for up to 3 years.


  • Lowest pregnancy rate of the birth control methods that can be reversed.

  • No interruption to sex.

  • Easy to use.

  • Don’t require taking a pill each day.

  • May decrease menstrual cramps, menstrual flow, and acne.


  • Do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • May cause irregular periods.

  • May cause side effects such as nausea, weight gain, breast tenderness, fatigue, or mood changes. (These often go away within 3 months.)

  • May take up to a year for you to become fertile (able to get pregnant) after stopping injections.

  • May increase the risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

Time-release hormones may not be for you if:

  • You are a smoker and over age 35.

  • You have high blood pressure or gallbladder, liver, or heart disease.

  • You have diabetes, migraines, bleeding, or vein problems. (In these cases, discuss the risks with your doctor.)