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How do hormonal methods of contraception work?

Oral contraceptives (“the pill”) are the most popular and effective birth control method available. Hormonal methods of birth control prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation. They are available as pills, patches, vaginal rings and by injection. Hormonal contraceptives are about 95 to 99 percent effective. But whether the pill is right for you depends on many factors.

Types of birth control pills

  • Some pills contain estrogen and progesterone.
  • Other pills contain only progesterone (called mini pills).
  • Another pill is taken for three months straight, and a woman only gets her period four times a year.

Other types of hormone delivery

  • The patch contains both estrogen and progesterone. You leave it on for 21 days and then remove it for seven days.
  • The vaginal ring is a small circular device that contains estrogen and progesterone. You insert it deep into your vagina and leave it there for 21 days.
  • An injection called Depo-Provera contains only progesterone. It is given at your provider’s office every three months. Before committing to any long-lasting method, you may want to try a progesterone-only pill, which you can stop at any time, to see how you respond.
  • Progestin implants are surgically implanted beneath the skin and work for several years. The Norplant implant was taken off the market, but other implants are available.

In general, hormonal methods of birth control are safe for women with diabetes. If you are over 35 and smoke or if you have a history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, peripheral blood vessel disease or blood clots, these methods may be risky for you.

Continue Learning about Birth Control

Why Some People Are Unable to Use Hormonal Birth Control
Why Some People Are Unable to Use Hormonal Birth Control
Hormonal birth control is very effective, but it may not be the right choice for everyone. Learn the reasons why in this video.  
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What Are the Different Options for Family Planning?
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.