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What is Hormonal Contraception?

Hormonal contraception is a popular choice for preventing unplanned pregnancies. It can be very convenient and effective, and there are many different forms of hormonal contraception to suit different lifestyles.

How Hormonal Contraception Works

The menstrual cycle is controlled by the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone. The levels of these hormones control events like ovulation and your period. Hormonal contraception uses synthetic forms of these hormones to inhibit your natural cycle. The hormones from the contraception will stop you from ovulating so there is no egg available to be fertilised. Hormonal contraceptives can also change the cervical mucus and womb lining to make it less likely that you’ll get pregnant even if an egg is released.

Types of Hormonal Contraception

All hormonal contraceptives work in the same basic way, but the manner in which the hormones are delivered can be very different. If you want to use hormonal contraception, then you should ask a doctor for advice on which method will be the best fit for you.

You might want to consider the following types of hormonal contraception:

  • The pill (oral contraception)
  • Mini-pill or progestogen only pill
  • Contraceptive patch
  • Contraceptive injection
  • Implant
  • Hormonal coil or IUCD

Is Hormonal Contraception Right for You?

Hormonal contraception can be more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when it is being used correctly. The most effective forms of contraception are those like the implant and hormonal coil that don’t require any action to be taken after they are fitted. Hormonal contraception can therefore be a great choice if you need reliability.

However, it’s important to consider the other effects that hormonal contraception can have on your body too. The hormones that are released will affect your menstrual cycle. For many women, this can help to relieve menstrual symptoms such as heavy periods and period pain. Some forms of hormonal contraception can make your periods lighter or even stop them altogether.

Hormonal contraceptives can also cause side effects. You might experience headaches, mood swings, nausea or other issues. Sometimes these will disappear within weeks, but they can last longer. You might need to switch to a different brand or form of hormonal contraception or even give it up completely.

Some women aren’t able to use hormonal contraception because of the side effects. It might also be unsuitable for you if you have certain conditions that could put you at higher risk of complications like blood clots. For example, if you are over 35, overweight or you smoke, it might be better to avoid hormonal contraceptives that contain oestrogen. You may still be able to use progestogen only contraception as the risk of complications such as blood clots is lower.

The best contraceptive for you is a very personal choice that will depend on your health, preferences and lifestyle. See a doctor for contraception advice to find the option that suits you.

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