Cheat Sheet | Contraceptives

Sick of the daily pill? You now have other options. And stay tuned: a version of the pill that limits periods to four times a year may be available in about a year. Remember that all drugs containing hormones can have side effects like breast tenderness and nausea. Smoking increases the most serious, but rare, risks--stroke and heart attack.


Apply a new patch (a combo of estrogen and progestin) weekly. Go patch-free one week per month.

Pros: Noninvasive, lasts a week, water-resistant

Cons: May get rough or dirty at edges, irritate skin; not always discreet

Cost per month: $30 to $35


Inserted into the vagina, emitting low doses of hormones. Wear it three weeks, then remove for one.

Pros: Easy insertion--no precise placement necessary

Cons: May be hard to reach at removal; definitely not for the squeamish

Cost per month: $35 to $40


Given once a month at the doc's office. Microcrystals containing hormones dissolve over 30 days.

Pros: Fast, convenient; out of your hands for a month

Cons: A needle! Possible irritation at injection site. Monthly doc visits.

Cost per month: $35


Made of plastic that releases progestin. Improvement over old IUD. Stays in up to five years.

Pros: Five years! Periods may eventually lighten.

Cons: Heavy bleeding in first months and ovarian cysts possible

Cost per month: $8 (if worn five years)