Oral Contraceptive Treatments
Hormonal contraceptives offer a convenient, effective and discreet way to protect against pregnancy and are a popular method of contraception. They’re over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and have a range of beneficial side effects including more regular, lighter and less painful periods, improved PMS symptoms and improved acne, depending on which pill you take.
You may not find the right contraceptive for you straight away, but the diversity of the pills available means you will find one that suits your body eventually. The most popular forms of hormonal contraceptives are the combined pill, known as ‘the pill’ and the progestogen-only pill, known as ‘the mini-pill’.
Monophasic pills usually contain artificial versions of the naturally occurring female sex hormones oestrogen and progestogen. The pills contain the same dose of hormones, and are usually taken for 21 days of your cycle. If used correctly, they are over 99% effective for the full month.
A steady dose of hormones can reduce your chances of developing cyclic side effects associated with a natural fluctuation in hormone levels, such as mood swings.
Common monophasic contraceptive pills include:
- Loestrin 20
- Loestrin 30
Biphasic and triphasic pills
Biphasic and triphasic pills are also combined contraceptives, and are taken for 21 days, but the dosage varies within a pack. Biphasic pills contain two different doses, and triphasic pills contain three different doses.
This change in hormone levels mimics the way the hormones in your body naturally rise and fall. This can reduce the risk of developing side effects associated with a constant, even dose of hormones, such as spotting, breakthrough bleeding and irregular periods.
Common biphasic and triphasic pills include:
Mini-pills are also known as progestogen-only contraceptives because they don’t contain oestrogen. These are slightly less effective than combined contraceptives in some women, because they don’t prevent ovulation in every user. However, they are still over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and are equally as effective as combined pills in women who don’t ovulate.
Cerazette is the only mini-pill that is capable of stopping ovulation in the majority of women who use it, making it the most effective progestogen-only pill.
The absence of oestrogen means the risk of developing oestrogen-related side effects, such as headaches, migraines and increased blood pressure, is reduced. This makes the mini-pill popular with women who have experienced these kinds of side effects when using the combined pill.
More women can use the mini-pill than the combined pill because it is less likely to cause certain health implications, such as thrombosis. This means women over 35, smokers or breastfeeding mothers, for example, can use the mini-pill.
Common mini-pills include:
Rings and patches
In recent years, scientists have developed several alternatives to oral contraceptives. The most popular of these have been the contraceptive ring and contraceptive patch. Both of these methods work in a similar way to combined oral contraceptives and are equally as effective.
The patch and the ring administer a regular dose of hormones for three in every four weeks of your cycle; however, unlike pills, they don’t require daily action. The contraceptive ring is placed inside your vagina, where it remains for 21 days. The patch can be placed on any hairless part of your body and only needs to be changed once a week.
Alternative options to oral contraceptives include: