Hormonal contraceptive methods – hormonal contraceptives

What are hormonal contraceptives?

A type of birth control that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and manage periods and certain medical conditions

They are:

Safe for most women

99% effective in preventing pregnancy

Birth control is more than just preventing pregnancy

Many women use hormonal birth control to manage health problems, not just to prevent pregnancy;

  • Acne

  • Migraine

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Endometriosis

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Extreme menstrual pain

What types of hormonal contraceptives are there?

  • The pill, a contraceptive you take by mouth

  • Progestin injection, injection once every 12 weeks

  • A progestin implantable rod placed under the skin can stay in place for up to 3 years

  • Estrogen and progestin skin patches applied weekly for 3 weeks followed by a week off

  • Estrogen and progestin vaginal ring used for 3 weeks followed by a week off

  • An intrauterine device (IUD) with a progestin that is placed in the uterus, where it can stay for up to 5 years

How should you take oral contraceptives?

Every day for three weeks, with one week off. Some women may take the pill without a break if approved by their healthcare provider.

It is important.

Take your pill at the same time every day because they have a short half-life.

Half-life = how long the drug stays in your body

What if you miss taking your pill?

If you take combined pills (estrogen and progestin) 3 hours or later, you should use a backup method until your next period.

If you take progestin-only pills (minipills) 3 hours or later, you need a backup for at least 2 days.

Know when your period is or skip it.

Hormonal pills and vaginal rings can help regulate your period so it’s not a surprise every month. And they can reduce bleeding.

Hormonal IUDs and implants can stop periods altogether in some women and make them lighter in others.

Planning a great getaway? You can delay your period.

If your period is scheduled to start after you get there, talk to your doctor about your birth control schedule and delaying your period.

Breakthrough bleeding

Breakthrough bleeding or spotting may occur with hormonal contraceptives. It is most common with low-dose pills and implants. Stopping your period increases your risk of breakthrough bleeding.

Bleeding with a hormonal IUD usually improves after the first few months.


Hormonal birth control does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, HIV, and chlamydia.

This resource was created with support from Alora.

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