Hormonal contraception is a highly effective way to prevent pregnancy. Women can choose from various hormonal contraception methods, all of which are safe with minimal-to-no adverse side effects. Many women choose hormonal contraception because it is reliable and convenient.
How Does Hormonal Contraception Work?
Whichever form of hormonal contraception you use, the hormones work in similar ways to prevent pregnancy. The hormones used for contraception are a small amount of synthetic estrogen, progestin or a combination of both. Those hormones work by changing the normal levels of estrogen, progesterone, and certain other hormones in your body. This can prevent pregnancy in three ways:
- They stop your body from releasing an egg (ovulation). Without an egg to fertilize, you cannot get pregnant.
- They change your cervical mucus so that sperm cannot swim through it to reach an egg and fertilize it.
- They change the lining of your uterus so that any fertilized egg cannot attach itself.
What Are the Different Forms of Hormonal Contraception Methods?
Hormonal contraception is available to women in a variety of forms. They are:
- Vaginal ring
- Intrauterine device (IUD)
Your healthcare provider can evaluate which of these contraceptive methods is safest for you based on your health history and best suits your lifestyle.
What Is the Effectiveness of Hormonal Contraception?
Hormonal contraception is exceptionally effective at preventing pregnancy. The most effective method is the implant. The implant is placed under the skin of your upper arm by your healthcare provider. Once implanted, it protects against pregnancy for three years. It is over 99% effective because the implant eliminates human error risk—there is no pill to remember to take or device to insert properly. In contrast, using a condom (one of the most popular forms of non-hormonal contraceptive techniques) is less than 90% effective.
Make Hormonal Contraception Effective Immediately
Hormonal contraception becomes effective very quickly. Whether it becomes effective immediately when you begin the regimen or within a couple of weeks depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle when you start the contraception. If you begin during your period, most hormonal contraception methods are effective immediately. Your health care provider can provide you with specific information about that and assist you with scheduling as needed.
Are There Possible Side Effects?
Many women experience some side effects from hormonal contraception, particularly during the first few months while their bodies adjust to the hormones. As time goes by, any negative side effects often subside. Some women experience no negative side effects at all. The nature and extent of side effects vary with each individual.
Common Physical Side Effects
Among the most common physical side effects that women notice with hormonal contraception are changes to the duration and volume of period bleeding. Frequently, hormonal contraceptives will cause your periods to become lighter and shorter in duration. For that reason, hormonal contraceptives may benefit women who normally have heavy periods, problems with menstruation-related anemia or iron deficiency, or irregular periods. Hormonal contraceptives can also provide relief to women who have painful menstruation caused by endometriosis.
Another common side effect is the changes in your complexion. Estrogen can be an effective way to treat acne. Other hormones in hormonal contraceptives may cause you to develop acne, melasma or experience other negative changes to your skin’s appearance. Those negative side effects can usually be resolved by changing to a hormonal contraceptive that uses a different formula.
Depending on the contraceptive you use, other side effects commonly experienced can include nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, weight gain, and libido changes.
Effect On Breast Cancer Risks
Research on the effect hormonal contraceptives have on your breast cancer risk is mixed. Researchers believe that different formulations of the hormones may have different effects on breast cancer risks and women with a family history of breast cancer. Your healthcare provider can discuss this with you and assess your risk profile.
Common Mental Side Effects
The hormones in some contraceptives can reduce the mood-regulating neurotransmitter, serotonin, anin the brain. Some women report changes in their moods while using contraception that contains progestin. It is unclear whether the hormonal contraceptives in fact cause mood changes.
The relationship between hormonal contraceptives and depression has not been clearly established. Researchers believe that the effect is likely different for different women. Nonetheless, they believe the overall mental health risks to women using hormonal contraceptives are small. In fact,, women who have severe PMS or a major depressive disorder may experience positive changes to their mood from hormonal contraceptives.
Talk with Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness for More Information about Hormonal Contraceptive Options
Hormonal contraceptives are extremely popular because they are highly effective and convenient to use. If you are interested in learning more about what type of hormonal contraceptive would be best for you, contact the experts at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness. They are available to answer your questions and schedule an appointment with one of their experienced women’s health specialists.