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Hormonal birth control methods – Hormonal birth control pills

What are hormonal contraceptives?

A type of birth control that uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and help control periods and certain medical conditions

They are:

Safe for most women

99% effective at preventing pregnancy

Birth control isn’t just for preventing pregnancy

Many women use hormonal contraception to manage health problems, not just to prevent pregnancy:

  • Acne

  • migraine headache

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  • Endometrial optimism

  • Endometrial cancer

  • Extreme menstrual pain

What types of hormonal contraceptives are there?

  • The pill, a form of birth control you take

  • Progestin injection, every 12 weeks

  • Progestin implants, inserted under the skin, can last up to 3 years

  • Skin patch containing estrogen and progestin, applied weekly for 3 weeks, then 1 week off

  • Vaginal ring containing estrogen and progestin, used for 3 weeks, then 1 week off

  • Intrauterine device (IUD) containing progestin, inserted into the uterus and can last up to 5 years

How should you take birth control pills?

Every day for three weeks, with a week off. Some women can take the pill continuously if approved by their healthcare provider.


Take the pills at the same time every day because they have a short half-life!

Half-life = how long the drug stays in your body

What if you take your medicine late?

If you take a combination pill (estrogen and progestin) for 3 hours or more, you should use a backup method until your next period.

If you take a progestin-only pill (small pill) for 3 hours or more, you need at least 2 days of backup.

Know when you will get your period or skip it!

Hormonal pills and vaginal rings can help regulate your cycle so it’s no surprise every month. And they can make bleeding less severe.

Hormonal IUDs and implants can stop periods completely for some women and make them lighter for others.

Planning a big getaway? You can delay your time.

If your period is scheduled to start when you get there, talk to your doctor about scheduling your birth control and delaying your period.

Breakthrough bleeding

Sudden bleeding or spotting can occur with hormonal contraceptives. It is most common with low-dose drugs and implants. Stopping menstruation increases the risk of sudden bleeding.

Bleeding with the hormonal IUD usually improves after the first few months.


Hormonal contraceptives do not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, HIV, and chlamydia.

This resource was created with support from Alora.

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