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Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal

Birth control pills

How does it work?

  • A pill is taken once a day.
  • Comes in 21 or 28-day packs.
  • Contains either the hormone progestin or a combination of progestin and estrogen.
  • Stops the ovary from releasing an egg (ovulation).
  • Changes the lining of the uterus and makes it difficult for the egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.
  • Thickens the cervical mucus and makes it more difficult for the sperm to travel into the uterus.
  • Requires a prescription.

Advantages

  • 92 to 99.7% effective.
  • Menstrual periods may be shorter in length and lighter in flow with less cramping.
  • Regulates periods.
  • May reduce the risk of some cancers of the reproductive system.
  • May improve acne.
  • Easily reversible.
  • Allows for unplanned sex.

Disadvantages

No protection against STIs.
  • Should be taken about the same time every day to keep a steady level of hormones in the body.
  • Some side effects such as stomach upset, breast tenderness, bleeding between periods and headaches.
  • People with certain conditions may not be able to take the pill due to increased risk of a blood clot (for example, smokers over the age of 35, or people with high blood pressure).
  • The combination pill containing progestin and estrogen is not recommended for people who smoke.

Transdermal patch (“the patch”)

How does it work?

  • The patch is a piece of polyester4-centimetres square that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin.
  • Hormones are absorbed through the skin.
  • Stops the ovary from releasing an egg (ovulation).
  • Thickens the cervical mucus and makes it more difficult for the sperm to travel into the uterus.
  • Changes the lining of the uterus and makes it difficult for the egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.

Advantages

  • 92 to 99.7% effective.
  • May reduce the risk of some cancers of the reproductive system.
  • Menstrual periods may be shorter in length and lighter in flow with less cramping.
  • Regulates periods.
  • Wear the same patch for 7 days in a row.
  • Not swallowed, so there is less chance of stomach upset.
  • May improve acne.
  • Is easily reversible.
  • Allows for unplanned sex.

Disadvantages

No protection against STIs.
  • Is not recommend for people who smoke.
  • May be less effective for people who weigh more than 198 pounds (90 kilograms).
  • Possible skin irritation where the patch is placed.
  • You must remember to change the patch as directed for it to work.
  • Some side effects such as breast tenderness, stomach upset, bleeding between periods and headaches.
  • Small chance of the patch becoming loose or falling off.
  • People with certain conditions may not be able to use the patch due to increased risk of a blood clot (for example, smokers over the age of 35 years, or people with high blood pressure).

Contraceptive ring

How does it work?

  • A flexible ring is inserted into the vagina and releases the hormones estrogen and progestin.
  • Hormones are absorbed through the lining of the vagina.
  • Stops the ovary from releasing an egg (ovulation).
  • Thickens the cervical mucus and makes it difficult for the egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.
  • Changes the lining of the uterus and makes it difficult for the egg to attach to the wall of the uterus.
  • Stays in the vagina for 21 days, then removed for 7 days and allows for a regular period.
  • The ring is inserted and removed by the user, not by a nurse or doctor
  • Requires a prescription.

Advantages

  • 92 to 99.7% effective.
  • Does not need to be removed before or after intercourse.
  • Rarely felt by user and/or partner.
  • If felt during intercourse can be removed but cannot be out longer than 3 hours.
  • Regulates periods.
  • Less chance of stomach upset.
  • Can be used by a healthy, non-smoking person of any age.
  • Allows for unplanned sex.
  • Easily reversible.

Disadvantages

No protection against STIs.
  • Some side effects such as stomach upset, bleeding between periods, headaches, breast tenderness.
  • May accidently slip out under certain conditions.
  • Some people may not be able to use the ring due to increased risk of a blood clot (for example, smokers over the age of 35, or people with high blood pressure).

Injection method

How does it work?

  • Injection that contains only the hormone progestin (there is no estrogen in this method).
  • Must get the injection every 12 weeks.
  • Stops the ovary from releasing an egg (ovulation).
  • Thickens the cervical mucus and makes it more difficult for the sperm to travel into the uterus.
  • Requires a prescription.

Advantages

  • 97 to 99.7% effective.
  • Each injection last 12 weeks.
  • Effective right away if injection occurs during the first 5 days of a normal period.
  • Allows for unplanned sex.
  • Periods may be shorter in length and lighter in flow or may no longer occur at all.
  • Can be used by people who are unable to use estrogen (for example, those over the age of 35 who smoke).
  • Reversible.

Disadvantages

No protection against STIs.
  • Side effects may include changes in menstrual bleeding patterns, weight changes, breast tenderness, mood changes, and headaches.
  • Slower return of fertility—not recommended if you plan to become pregnant in the next 1 to 2 years.
  • Side effects can last up to 6 to 8 months after the last injection.
  • Affects bone density and is not recommended for long-term use.

 

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Yukoners can email a sexual health and relationship question anytime;

or call Mon-Fri from 9am to 9pm (1-800-SEX-SENSE / 1-800-739-7367)

Questions will be answered by OPT BC's Sexual Health Educators.