Hormonal Contraception Information

Estrogen and progesterone (progestin) are hormones used in many forms of birth control (contraception). These 2 hormones make up most hormonal contraceptives. Hormonal contraceptives use either:

  • A combination of estrogen hormone and progesterone hormone in the form of a:

  • Pill. Typical pill packs include 21 days of active hormone pills and 7 days of non-hormonal pills. During the non-hormone week, you will have your period. There are certain types of pills that include more days of active hormones.

  • Patch. The patch is placed on the lower abdomen every week for 3 weeks, and not on the fourth week.

  • Vaginal ring. The ring is placed in the vagina and left there for 3 weeks, and removed for 1 week.

  • Progesterone alone in the form of a(n):

  • Pill. Hormone pills are taken every day of the cycle.

  • Intrauterine device (IUD). The IUD is inserted during a menstrual period and removed or replaced every 5 years or less.

  • Implant. Plastic rods are placed under the skin of the upper arm and are removed or replaced every 3 years or less.

  • Injection. The injection is given once every 90 days.

Pregnancy can still occur with any of these hormonal contraceptive methods. If there is any suspicion of pregnancy, take a pregnancy test and talk to your caregiver.

ESTROGEN AND PROGESTERONE CONTRACEPTIVES

Estrogen and progesterone contraceptives can prevent pregnancy by:

  • Stopping the actions of other reproductive hormones.  

  • Stopping the release of an egg (ovulation).

  • Changing the lining of the uterus. This change makes it more difficult for an egg to implant.

Side effects from estrogen occur more often in the first 2 or 3 months. Talk to your caregiver about what side effects may affect you. If you develop persistent side effects or they are severe, talk to your caregiver.

PROGESTERONE CONTRACEPTIVES

Progesterone only contraceptives can prevent pregnancy by:

  • Blocking ovulation.

  • Preventing the entry of sperm into the uterus by keeping the cervical mucus thick and sticky.

  • Slowing the action of fallopian tubes to slow sperm transport.

  • Changing the lining of the uterus. This change makes it more difficult for an egg to implant.

Side effects of progesterone can vary. Talk to your caregiver about what side effects may affect you. If you develop persistent side effects or they are severe, talk to your caregiver.