Hormonal contraception

Some contraceptives work by using hormones that are similar to the hormones women produce naturally.

Hormones are chemicals produced by cells that are secreted into the blood that then tell each part of your body what work to do, when to do it, and for how long. Sex hormones are vital for sexual development and reproduction.

Hormonal contraception only protects you against unplanned pregnancy and does not provide any protection against HIV or other sexually transmitted infections like a condom does.

The Pill

Combined hormonal contraception pill (also known as the pill) is a course of tablets containing two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. The hormones mainly work by stopping eggs being released from your ovaries each month.

With the most common type, you take the pill every day, at the same time, for 21 days, and then have a seven-day break. If taken correctly it is over 99% effective. If you miss pills, take certain antibiotics, have vomiting or severe diarrhoea it will be less effective and you will need to take extra precautions by using a condom as directed by your health care provider.

The Mini Pill

Progestogen-only pill (the mini pill) is a daily tablet containing the hormone progestogen. The mini pill either works like the combined pill, or makes it hard for sperm to move through and successfully fertilise an egg in the womb. You take the pill at the same time every day. If used correctly it is 99% effective.

Contraceptive Injection

Contraceptive injection, also known as the Depo or Depo-Provera, is a long-acting contraception method containing the hormone progestogen. It lasts for 8–12 weeks and is over 99% effective.

Hormonal Implant

A hormonal implant is a match-sized bendy stick that is placed just under the skin in your upper arm. It releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream. It works for up to three years. It has to be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse, so it may not be available at all GP surgeries or clinics. Once fitted it is over 99% effective.

Contraceptive Patch

A contraceptive patch is a small, thin sticky patch that contains 2 hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. You put it on your skin and both hormones are released into your bloodstream. It prevents pregnancy in the same way as the combined pill. If used correctly it is over 99% effective.

Contraceptive Vaginal Ring

A contraceptive vaginal ring is a flexible, transparent plastic ring that contains 2 hormones, oestrogen and progestogen, that goes inside your vagina. It prevents pregnancy in the same way as the combined pill.

IUD

IUD (intra-uterine device) is a small plastic and copper coil device which is placed in the uterus (womb) by a specially trained doctor or nurse. Once fitted, they can typically be left in place for five to 10 years depending on the type. They are over 99% effective.

IUS

IUS (intra-uterine system) is a small plastic device which releases progestogen that is placed inside the uterus (womb) by a specially trained doctor or nurse. Once fitted, they can typically be left in place for five years. Once fitted they are over 99% effective.