Contraceptives are widely considered to be the most effective form of birth control for women. They are available in a variety of forms including the combined pill (the pill), mini pill, patch and vaginal ring. Proven to be over 99% effective, they are the preferred form of contraception for more than 3.5 million women across the UK.
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Hormonal contraception is one of the most common and effective ways to prevent pregnancy. Reliable and safe, if used correctly, the treatments are proven to be more than 99% effective. The efficacy of contraception can be compromised if you miss a pill, forget to change the patch or your ring comes out.
By missing a pill or two, effectiveness can be significantly reduce and there is a greater risk of you falling pregnant - find out more below.
Hormonal contraception works in a number of ways to prevent pregnancy. It:
When used correctly, contraception can allow you to enjoy a healthy sex life without the risk of becoming pregnant. Aside from this, contraception may be prescribed to:
There are many different types of contraception available. Currently there are over 15 different methods of contraception. These include:
Hormonal contraception comes in over 30 different variations, including the combined pill, the mini pill, patches and the vaginal ring. For women who are unable to take hormonal contraceptives, the IUD (intrauterine device) may be an option, as this works by releasing copper rather than hormones. Alternatively, some women opt for natural contraception methods, such as fertility awareness, which involves monitoring the body for fertility signals and having sex only when the risk of pregnancy is low. However generally the effectiveness of this type of contraception is far lower than with hormonal contraceptives.
It's important to remember that only barrier methods of contraception such as condoms offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Knowing which contraception option to choose will depend on a number of factors which include, your age, whether you smoke, are overweight, have a medical history which includes high blood pressure or diabetes, or taking any medication. Speaking to a health professional can help you decide which option is most suitable for you. Alternatively our contraception tool will help to give you an idea on which contraceptive method may be the best option for you.
The main difference between oral contraceptives like the combined pill and the mini pill is that the combined pill contains two hormones (progestogen and oestrogen) and the mini-pill contains only progestogen.
The mini pill is taken for the full 28 days of your cycle with no seven-day break, as opposed to most combined pills, which are taken for 21 days. As a progestogen-only pill, the mini pill is a more suitable alternative for women who are sensitive to oestrogen, overweight or smoke. Whilst the mini pill is slightly less effective than the combined pill, both contraceptives when used correctly are effective at preventing pregnancy. Knowing and comparing the different methods of contraception will help you to make an informed decision in choosing the best contraceptive for you and your body.
Although the pill is the most commonly used form of contraception, there are still are a number of effective and convenient contraceptive options available for women. The table below shows the different alternatives to the pill.
The vaginal ring is relatively new and is simply the pill in the form of a vaginal ring that is inserted into the vagina and left for three weeks.It contains the same hormones as the combined pill, in other words artificial oestrogen and progestogen, but because it's not taken orally it's less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects and to be affected by conditions such as diarrhoea. As it stays in the vagina for three weeks straight, it reduces the risk of pregnancy due to incorrect use, which can often be the result if you forget to take a contraceptive pill. Efficacy rate 99%
Reports regarding the pill, mini pill, patch or ring damaging your long-term health are false. You can take these forms of contraception over a longer period of time safely. This includes using contraception after childbirth.
It is recommended that you review your contraception every six months with a healthcare professional as changes in your health and body such as blood pressure, may affect your choice of contraception.
Are you at risk of experiencing side effects? Whilst there will always be a risk of side effects when taking any medication, contraception side effects are often minor and extremely manageable. Here is a lowdown of the types of side effects you may experience:
It's important to remember the side effects for birth control are often temporary. Women tend to experience contraception side effects within the first year of taking contraception, or when starting a new course of treatment, so do give each option time if you are experiencing minor side effects. It could still be the best option for you. Otherwise, there are many other options available for you to try.
For severe side effects, it is advised to stop your dosage and visit your doctor. Do remember to continue protecting yourself against pregnancy with barrier methods such as condoms, or avoid having sex until you have discovered the most effective method for you.
It has been proven that contraception, in particular contraceptive pills, can increase the risk of cancer, however this is an extremely minute amount. For more information of the cancer risks associated with birth control, please visit the NHS.
Whilst taking contraception is the most common query in terms of side effects, research has shown that you can protect yourself against pregnancy without the added pounds. The majority of studies show that a small percentage of women experience some weight gain, however this can often be classed as water retention, and is a temporary effect.
With over 20 different contraceptive pills available, it is essential that you find the one that is best for you and your body. This will usually depend on your overall health, lifestyle, and age. As oral contraceptive pills range from the combined pill which contains both oestrogen and progestogen, to the mini pill which contains progestogen only, knowing the difference between each pill will go a long way in helping you make an informed choice. If you seek advice on the contraceptive pill you should talk to a medical professional such as your G.P. Alternatively you can complete an online consultation here at HealthExpresss, where a doctor can prescribe the most suitable contraceptive for you.Click here to find your contraceptive