How do hormonal methods of family planning work

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These methods contain hormones, called estrogen and progestin, that are similar to the estrogen and progesterone a woman makes in her own body. Hormonal methods include:

  • Pills, which a woman takes every day.
  • Injections, which are given every few months.
  • Implants, which are put into a woman’s arm and last for several years.

A woman controls hormonal methods and they can be used without a man knowing.

IMPORTANT! Hormonal methods do not protect against STIs or HIV.

Hormonal methods work by preventing the woman’s ovaries from releasing an egg. The hormones also make the mucus at the opening of the womb very thick, which helps stop the sperm from getting inside the womb.

Most birth control pills and some injections contain both estrogen and progestin. These are called ‘combination’ pills or injections. The two hormones work together to give excellent protection against pregnancy. However, some women should not use pills or injections with estrogen for health reasons, or because they are breastfeeding.

Progestin-only pills (also called mini-pills), implants, and some injections contain only one hormone—progestin. These methods are safer than combined pills or injections for women who should not use estrogen, or are breastfeeding.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en020418