Hormonal Methods of Contraception
Hormonal methods of birth control use hormones to regulate or stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy. Ovulation is the biological process in which the ovary releases an egg, making it available for fertilization. Hormones can be introduced into the body through various methods, including pills, injections, skin patches, transdermal gels, vaginal rings, intrauterine systems, and implantable rods. Depending on the types of hormones that are used, these pills can prevent ovulation; thicken cervical mucus, which helps block sperm from reaching the egg; or thin the lining of the uterus. Health care providers prescribe, monitor, and administer hormonal contraceptives.
- Combined oral contraceptives ("the pill"). Combined oral contraceptive pills contain different combinations of the synthetic estrogens and progestins and are given to interfere with ovulation. A woman takes one pill daily, preferably at the same time each day. Many types of oral contraceptives are available, and a health care provider helps to determine which type best meets a woman's needs. Use of combine oral contraceptive pills is not recommended for women who smoke tobacco and are more than 35 years old or for any woman who has high blood pressure, a history of blood clots, or a history of breast, liver, or endometrial cancer.
- Progestin-only pills (POPs), or "Mini-pill"
- Contraceptive patch. This is a thin, plastic patch that sticks to the skin and releases hormones through the skin into the bloodstream.
- Injectable birth control. This method involves injection of a progestin, Depo-Provera® (DMPA—depo medroxyprogesterone acetate), given in the arm or buttocks once every 3 months. T
- Vaginal rings. The ring is thin, flexible, and approximately 2 inches in diameter. It delivers a combination of a synthetic estrogen (ethinyl estradiol) and a progestin. The ring is inserted into the vagina, where it continually releases hormones for 3 weeks. The woman removes it for the fourth week and reinserts a new ring 7 days later.
- Implantable rods. A physician surgically inserts the rod under the skin of the woman's upper arm. The rods release a progestin and can remain implanted for up to 5 years.
- Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs). ECPs are hormonal pills, taken either as a single dose or two doses 12 hours apart, that are intended for use in the event of unprotected intercourse.
Reference: Center for Disease Control and Prevention