All processes associated with childbirth in the female body are controlled by hormones. With the help of drugs that contain synthetic analogs of female hormones, it is possible to prevent pregnancy even at the stage of egg maturation.
Modern hormonal contraceptives can do three things:
- do not allow the egg to leave the ovaries – that is, they stop ovulation;
- make the mucus in the cervix thick and sticky so that sperm cannot get to the egg and fertilize it;
- disrupt the growth of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) – as a result, the fertilized egg cannot gain a foothold in the uterus.
This is usually enough to prevent pregnancy. Women who use hormonal contraceptives do not need a condom “for insurance,” but to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. Hormonal contraceptives do not protect against germs.
Is hormonal contraception reliable?
The British Ministry of Health estimates that hormonal contraceptives are more than 99% effective when used correctly. But even if you use them not quite according to the instructions (for example, take a pill at the wrong time, or skip taking one pill altogether), the result will still be quite reliable: about 91% effectiveness.
It is important to understand that there is no 100% reliable method of contraception. Employees of the World Health Organization (WHO) calculated the proportion of married couples who used hormonal contraceptives for a whole year in full accordance with existing recommendations – that is, according to instructions and regularly. Even so, 0.05-0.3% of women did become pregnant.
And this is a great result. In comparison, the proportion of women who became pregnant while using the male condom was 2%. Sperm-killing vaginal suppositories and gels failed the owners in 18% of cases, and vaginal diaphragms, which were used together with gels, in 6% of cases.
Is it definitely not harmful to use hormones for contraception?
As with any drugs, hormonal contraceptives have side effects, but the benefits from them in most cases far outweigh the harm. For example, birth control pills were recently found to protect women from ovarian and endometrial cancer.
It is interesting that even a complete “abolition of menstruation” does not harm the female body. It is even helpful – if a woman suffered from endometriosis prior to taking contraceptives, hormonal contraceptives can help relieve symptoms.
But in order for contraception to be beneficial, an important condition must be observed: the drug must be selected correctly. This should be done by a doctor.
Will hormonal contraception prevent having children in the future?
No. For most women, the ability to have children is restored in the first month after giving up hormonal contraception.
The only exception is injectable methods of contraception, which last for 3-6 months. In order for the probability of conception to be higher, it is worth waiting 6-10 months from the moment of the last injection.
Do all hormonal contraceptives work the same, or are there differences?
Hormonal contraceptives are divided into two large groups: progestational and combined, the latter include progestins and estrogens. Although drugs from both groups prevent pregnancy, they work slightly differently and have different side effects.
For example, in addition to protecting against unplanned pregnancy, combination drugs treat acne and reduce menstrual pain – but more often progestin-only drugs cause headaches, and they should not be smoked.
In addition, the difference in composition allows you to select a contraceptive for the needs of a particular woman. The medication a teenager needs may be different from a 40-year-old mother of two.
Contraceptives with progestins
What are. Progestin-only contraceptives come in the form of tablets, subcutaneous implants, and injections.
Who are they suitable for? A universal remedy, suitable for almost everyone. Most often it is recommended for patients who have contraindications for combined contraceptives: nursing mothers and women who have contraindications for taking combined contraceptives.
Frequent side effects. Acne, breast tenderness, headaches. Sometimes spotting occurs, or these contraceptives lead to a complete absence of menstruation, which does not suit everyone.