3 Non-Pill Birth Control Options: The Shot, The Patch, and The Ring

Non-Pill Birth Control Options

To put it simply, life is busy. We get caught up in the day’s chaos and something as simple as taking our supplements goes by the wayside. Before we know it, our weekly pillbox is still filled from the previous week. This may not be that serious of an offense, except if you’re on birth control. To be the most effective, this tiny pill should ideally be taken at the same time every day.

Forgetting to take the pill for a day or two can cause more stress for you and your partner. And we all know that we don’t need more anxiety in our lives! However, forgetfulness isn’t the only reason you may be looking for alternative birth control. Changes in mood, nausea, headaches, and acne are all side effects of the pill.

While women’s birth control used to be limited to the pill, there are other effective and convenient options available today. The shot, vaginal ring, or patch may be a much better match for you and your lifestyle. Below, we discuss each of these alternatives so you can make the best decision for your unique needs.  

1. The Shot

This option is very much a one-and-done deal. The birth control shot is injected into either your stomach or thigh area every three months. That’s it. There are no pills to worry about taking. As long as you stay on track with your shots, you are protected.

If you’ve experienced side effects when using estrogen options, the shot could be a game-changer for you. Because of this, it’s also generally safe for those who are currently breastfeeding. Of course, talk with your healthcare provider or OB-GYN before starting birth control after giving birth.

This can mean spotting between periods or bleeding for longer or shorter than normal. You may also experience nausea, weight gain, and mood swings. The shot is effective for 15 weeks, so any pregnancy protection wears off at this time. After stopping the shot, it can take a few months to get pregnant.

2. The Patch

Another option is the birth control patch. This is essentially a thin bandage or adhesive that is applied directly to your skin. You replace the patch weekly for three weeks. In the fourth week, you take a break for your period. The patch is typically worn on the lower back, arm, or stomach area.

In many cases, the patch works similarly to the pill. Both contain and release estrogen and progestin hormones. The main difference is that you have to do weekly maintenance, rather than daily. If you’re comfortable wearing a visible reminder of your birth control, this option may work best for you. 

3. The Vaginal Ring

The third and last alternative is the vaginal ring. This is often considered the most low-maintenance option, so it’s a great choice for those with particularly busy lifestyles.You will take a break from the ring on the fourth week for your period.

The ring is thin, flexible, and circular. The vaginal muscles hold the ring securely in place. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable but it may take a few tries to place it correctly.So you’ll want to use an additional form of birth control for the first few weeks.  

The side effects are also very similar to the other alternative options. Irregular bleeding, spotting, nausea, and mood swings are all common side effects. However, you may also notice vaginal irritation, dryness, or discharge when using a vaginal ring. All of these symptoms typically disappear after a few months. If you still experience symptoms beyond a few months, talk with your healthcare provider or OB-GYN.


Birth control is a very personal decision. If you are considering switching off of the pill, know that you have options. What works for your sister or best friend may not be the best choice for you. Also, keep in mind that your preferred method of birth control might change over time. What works for you today may not be the best option for you later in life.

It’s important to consider all of the alternative birth control options. Do some research and chat with a health care provider if you have any questions before making the switch.

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