The term hormonal contraception refers to types of contraception that contain particular hormones. The most well known type of hormonal contraception is the birth control pill, which contains synthetic versions of the natural female hormones that are found in the body. Hormonal contraceptives are either ingested, implanted, injected or placed on the skin to release a steady dose of hormones into the body, which work to prevent pregnancy.
Hormonal contraception is over 99% effective, making it one of the most effective forms of contraception, if it is used correctly. However, forgetting to take a pill or incorrectly placing a patch, for example, can significantly decrease the efficacy of the contraception.
Varieties of hormonal contraception include the combined oral contraceptive pill, the mini-pill, the contraceptive patch, the contraceptive ring, the contraceptive injection, the contraceptive implant and the intrauterine system (IUS). Each different type contains a varying dosage of hormone and uses a different method of administering the hormones to your body.
Though many women believe that weight gain is a side effect of hormonal contraception, this is actually a myth. There is no evidence that these methods cause weight gain. They can, however, cause some bloating and water retention, but this is usually only temporary and stops after the body becomes used to the hormones contained in the contraceptive.
Side effects are a possibility, as with any form of medication, but if they do occur they are usually very mild and only temporary. Some women report headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and spotting between periods.
No. The contraceptive effects are only temporary and will last only as long as you take or use your method of choice. Studies have shown that fertility levels return to normal after contraceptive use is ceased.
There are not yet any hormonal options for men in terms of contraception. This is because the hormones contained in them are designed to affect a woman's reproductive system and will not have any impact on a man's.
This will depend on which hormonal contraceptive method you choose. If you take the combined or mini-pill you will need to take it at the same time every day for maximum efficacy. Injections and the IUS are administered or fitted once and the effects last for several years. Contraceptive rings are inserted once per cycle, and contraceptive patches should be replaced once a week.
The contraceptive injection and the IUS are both long-term contraceptives, the effects of which will last for several years. You may also want to consider an IUD, which is not a hormonal contraceptive but still protects against pregnancy for a number of years. These methods are known as long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC).
Yes, and this is often recommended, especially if you experience side effects with the first method you choose. You should also be aware that there are dozens of different varieties of combined pill, so you should not assume the combined pill is not for you if you try one type and experience side effects.