Certain birth control methods contain man-made forms of hormones that are normally made in a woman's ovaries. These hormones are called estrogen and progestin.
Birth control pills are one way of receiving these hormones. However, you must remember to take the pills every day.
Other methods to prevent pregnancy use the same hormones, but these hormones are released slowly over time.
A progestin implant is a small rod that is implanted under the skin, usually on the upper arm. The rod releases a small amount of the hormone progestin into the bloodstream.
It takes about a minute to insert the rod, which is done using a numbing medicine in a doctor's office. The rod can stay in place for 3 years, but it can be removed at any time. Removal usually takes only a few minutes.
After the implant has been inserted:
Progestin implants work better than birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. In any one year, only 1 out of every 100 women who use these implants is likely to get pregnant.
Your regular menstrual cycles should return within 3 - 4 weeks after these implants are removed.
Injections or shots that contain the hormone progestin also work to prevent pregnancy. A single shot works for up to 90 days. These injections are given into the muscles of the upper arm or buttocks.
Side effects that may occur include:
Progestin injections work better than birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. In any one year, only 1 out of every 100 women who use progestin injections is likely to get pregnant.
Sometimes the effects of these hormone shots last longer than 90 days. If you are planning to become pregnant in the near future, you might want to consider a different birth control method.
The skin patch is placed on your shoulder, buttocks, or another area of your body.
The patch slowly releases both estrogen and progestin into your blood. Your health care provider will prescribe this method for you.
The patch works better than birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. In any one year, only 1 out of every 100 women who use the patch is likely to get pregnant.
The skin patch contains estrogen. Along with the higher risk of blood clots, there is a rare risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Smoking increases these risks even more.
The vaginal ring is a flexible ring about 2 inches wide that is placed into the vagina. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogen.
Side effects with the ring may include:
The vaginal ring contains estrogen. As a result, there is a rare risk of high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. Smoking increases these risks even more.
The vaginal ring slowly releases both estrogen and progestin into your blood.
The vaginal ring works better than birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. In any one year, only 1 out of every 100 women who use the vaginal ring is likely to get pregnant.
Contraception - hormonal methods; Progestin implants; Progestin injections; Skin patch; Vaginal ring
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Updated by: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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