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Hormonal Contraceptive Methods.

Hormonal Contraceptive Methods.

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. It’s a nice experience to have a night of intimacy with a partner, but it’s never nice to wound up with an unplanned pregnancy and that’s where CONTRACEPTION comes in. Contraception, that is, family planning is simply a way of preventing pregnancy as it guarantee safe sex.

Note: Contraceptive methods will help prevent unplanned pregnancy but not all contraceptive methods will protect you from STIs.

You may be familiar with some of them, like condom and the pill, but they are all divided into two main groups:

  1. Hormonal methods and;
  2. Non-hormonal methods

Hormonal methods, which we would be talking about includes the pill, the vaginal ring, the injection, the implant, the IUS and the patch.

It is important to understand how the hormonal birth control methods work. They usually are a combination of two hormones (estrogen and progesterone) or they would have only one hormone in them (progesterone).

Estrogen works by inhibiting the release of an egg, while Progesterone work by

  • Thickening the mucus around the cervix, making it extra hard for sperm cells to move up to fertilize the egg in the uterus.
  • Thining of the uterus lining so that it becomes extra hard for an egg, if it should fertilize, to implant itself to the Uterus for growth.

Progesterone, however is closely associated to acne and that is why people that are susceptible to acne might experience an effect when this hormones are released far from the target site (the reproductive system). This effect can be known as systemic effects.

Recall that I said they are either a combination of the two hormones or they will contain just one hormone and that brings us to our first method of contraception.

THE MINI PILL/ THE PROGESTERONE ONLY PILL: 

It is 91% effective. This works in the same way as only progesterone would work i.e thickening of the mucus and thinning of the uterus lining.

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It is a pill that is taken once, everyday, at a particular time, for 21 days. Then for 7 days, you are either given a dummy pill (a pill containing only sugar and no hormone ) or you are left to not take any pill at this time. It is during this period that you should expect a bleed.

UPSIDES: 

  1. It helps to regulate period.
  2. Some of them help with PCOS

DOWNSIDE 

  1. You have to remember to take your pill everyday.
  2. It is a short acting reversible method of contraception. This simply means that your fertility can return immediately you skip a day.
  3. The pill is likely to become less effective if you are taking some antibiotics at the moment. During these times, it is advised to use another from of contraception like condom, just in case.
  4. You have to also use a back up form of contraception if you vomit or have excessive stooling because there would be a chance that you may have let it out of your system.
  5. It is not discrete.

THE COMBINED PILL:

This works in the same way as the mini pill. The only difference is that it contains a combination of the two hormones (estrogen and progesterone)

It has the same downsides and upsides as the mini pill.

THE PATCH:

This is just a plaster that is placed on the skin at any place that seems convenient for you. It could be your thigh, your fore arm or even your stomach. 

Just like the combined pill, it contains a combination of the two hormones (estrogen and progesterone) which are soaked up by the skin pores. 

A patch is worn for 7 days before it is then changed. After you have successfully worn it for 21 days (3 weeks), you are to remove it for the next seven days within which you are to expect a bleed. After this seven days, you are to begin wearing it again. 

It should be left on at all times on the days you have to wear it.

UPSIDES: 

  1. You do not have to remember to take the pill.
  2. You don’t have to worry about vomiting the pill or excess diarrhea because you are not taking it orally.

DOWNSIDES:

  1. It is not discrete.
  2. Systemic effect like excess acne.

VAGINAL RING: 

It is a plastic ring inserted into the vagina. It stays at the top and is held in place by surrounding muscles so you don’t have to bother about it falling off when you’re doing your daily activities.

The Vaginal ring is worn at the start of every week and changed after seven days. It is done for three weeks before you’ll take your 7days breather period at which point you will expect a bleed.

Once the 7 days breather period is over, you are expected to wear the ring again irrespective of if you’re bleeding or not. The vaginal ring doesn’t easily cultivate bacteria, so you don’t have to be bothered about it getting funky up there.

You can also rinse the ring whenever you bath if you wish to and reinsert it immediately. It might be felt by your partner during sex but it would not cause any exact disruption.

UPSIDES:

  1. You don’t have to remember to take the pill daily.
  2. The effect of the hormones is localized. This simply means that it as it’s site of action and so should help reduce systemic effects.

3. It is discrete

DOWNSIDES

1. It has to be inside the vagina at all times. If by any chance it falls out, which rarely happens, you are advised to wear it back immediately. Once it has stayed outside your body for up to 3 hours, it becomes a problem and you might have to use a new form of contraception for that period.

THE IMPLANT:

This is a plastic rod that is inserted underneath the skin of your non-dominant arm, in the inside portion. This means that if you are right handed, your implant would be put in your left arm. This procedure is done under local anesthesia which means you don’t have to worry about feeling a thing.

The implant contains only progesterone which will then be released into your blood stream. It is 99% effective.

UPSIDES

1. It is a long term form of contraception that doesn’t need to be remembered to taken. Can be left for up to 3 years.

DOWNSIDES: 

1. Systemic effects.

THE INJECTION:

This is another method that uses only progesterone. The injection is given into your fats or into your muscles (intra muscular). It is 99% effective and a shot of injection normally covers up to a month or three.

UPSIDES

1. No need to remember taking a daily pill.

2.  Vomiting and Diarrhea are not a problem for you.

See Also

DOWNSIDES

1. It is an irreversibleform of contraception. It’s not like the pill that you can stop or the implant/ring that you can take out when you like.

2. The hormones are not released at the target site so there is a risk of Systemic effects.

3. This is a form of contraception that your fertility might take a while (up to a year) to fully return even after you have stopped it. 

INTRA UTERINE SYSTEM:

Most people mistake it with the IUD but this is different. It is a copper system that releases a steady flow of progesterone when it is inserted into the uterus from the vagina.  

UPSIDES:

1. It is a long term of contraception. About 3-5years.

2. The hormones are localized and so you will experience lesser systemic effects.

DOWNSIDES

1. There is a risk of infection.

2. You’ll need to book an appointment with your doctor to have it inserted.

3. Can cause disregulation of your periods.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE: 

Hormonal forms of Contraception are supposed to be taken from the first day of period, that is when it becomes immediately effective. 

If it is taken at any other time of the cycle, a back up Contraceptive method like condom is usually advised for the first seven days of starting the medication before you can be fully covered.

Also, a period is the shedding of the endometrium lining ie the Uterus lining. Hormonal forms of contraception thins the lining of the uterus, which is supposed to be bloody, so that it will be impossible for a fertilized egg to implant to it. This is the reason people may experience heavy bleeding when they start the contraceptives which will eventually turn into lighter/no periods overtime.

Contraceptives helps us guarantee a safe sex while planning our home. There are various types of them and all you need to do is find the one that works best for you and just like that, you are good to go.

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