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Contraception FAQs

What kinds of contraception are available?

There are many different contraceptive options open to you, including barrier methods such as condoms and hormonal contraception, which includes oral contraceptive pills, contraceptive patches and contraceptive rings. There are also long-term contraceptives available in the form of an injection and a device called an IUD or IUS.

How effective is hormonal contraception?

Hormonal contraception is extremely effective by almost 100% when used correctly. To achieve this level of protection, it is essential to take or use the contraception exactly as it was prescribed to you. This means you should take each pill and change each patch as instructed by your doctor. Your contraception will not be as effective if you fail to do this.

What ingredients are found in hormonal contraceptives?

All hormonal contraceptives contain a synthetic form of progestogen, and the majority contain both synthetic progestogen and synthetic oestrogen. The type and dosage will vary from one type of contraceptive to another. For example, the contraceptive pill Cilest contains norgestimate, an artificial oestrogen, and ethinylestradiol, a form of progestogen, while the mini-pill Micronor contains only the synthetic progestogen norethisterone.

Does hormonal contraception lead to weight gain?

This is a common myth when it comes to hormonal contraceptives, but it is false for the vast majority of women. Though it is true that some contraceptives can lead to water retention and bloating, this is not the same as weight gain and is not permanent. Some contraceptives, like Yasmin, have a lower risk of water retention as a side effect.

What side effects can be caused by hormonal contraception?

Some women will experience side effects when using a form of hormonal contraception. These are usually mild and will pass after your body becomes used to the hormones contained in the contraceptive. Such effects could include nausea, spotting, breast tenderness and headaches.

Does taking hormonal contraception affect fertility?

No. It has been shown that hormonal contraceptives such as the pill will not adversely affect your fertility levels. When you cease taking your contraceptive, your fertility levels will be the same as they would have been had you not taken the contraceptive for that time.

Can men take hormonal contraceptives too?

No. All of the variations of hormonal contraception that are currently available are designed for women and will not have any effect on men. Though several varieties of "male pills" are in development, none have been cleared by clinical trials to be both safe and effective as a method of birth control.

What happens if I miss a pill or forget to change the patch or ring?

This will depend on the type of hormonal contraception you are using. You will need to make sure you have read the usage information carefully before you begin taking or using your contraceptive so you know what to do if this occurs. It is important to take every pill as prescribed, as failing to do so can reduce the effectiveness of the pill. This is also the case for the contraceptive patch and the contraceptive ring.

Are there any long term contraceptive methods available?

Yes, you do also have the option of more long term solutions, and these are known as LARCs (long acting reversible contraceptives). Examples of these methods include the implant, the injection and the intrauterine system. Many women choose these methods because of their long-term nature, which makes them convenient. However, they need to be fitted by a doctor and the insertion can sometimes be painful or uncomfortable.

What should I do if I don't like my hormonal contraception?

This will more than likely be caused by the particular type of hormonal contraception that you are using. Many women find that they need to try one or two different types before they find the option that is best for them. It may simply be that the oral contraceptive pill you have chosen is not well suited to your body, and it is a simple case of changing to a different pill. Or you may find that you find it difficult to remember to take a pill every day and wish to try a contraceptive patch.

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