Information on long-term hormonal contraception methods
Finding the method of contraception which is right for you can be difficult. While some women prefer using the contraceptive pill, others prefer non-hormonal contraceptive methods. A lot of women would like an effective, long-term method of contraception, and these mostly come in the form of hormonal devices, such as those listed below.
The intrauterine system is a small, T-shaped device which is inserted into the womb. It is similar to the IUD coil, which releases copper to prevent pregnancy, but instead of releasing copper the IUS releases the hormone progesterone. This stops a fertilised egg implanting in the lining of the womb and makes it harder for sperm to reach an egg.
Less than one woman out of 100 who use the IUS will get pregnant over five years. The IUS works for five years - but it can be removed sooner if you wish. The progesterone hormone in the IUS means that your periods become lighter (or sometimes non-existent) while the device is in place. Once it has been removed, your fertility should return to normal.
The implant is a tiny rod that fits under the skin of your arm. Like the IUS, the implant also releases progesterone. This stops ovulation, blocks sperm, and prevents a fertilised egg implanting. It works for three years but, again, it can be removed sooner if you wish. It’s one of the most effective methods - less than one woman out of 1000 will get pregnant. The main downside seems to be that the implant can cause your periods to become irregular, especially when it is first fitted. However, this often settles after the first few months.
The contraceptive injection also releases progesterone into your body meaning it works similarly to the IUS and the implant. It lasts for either eight or 12 weeks (depending on which type you choose) and is effective in over 99% of women. The injection is not affected by other medicines and you can use it while breastfeeding. However, it can’t be removed or reversed - this means if you experience any side effects, they are likely to last as long as the contraception lasts (around 3 months). You may also gain weight with the injection.
It is important to take the time to work out which type of contraception is right for you, and to talk to your GP about changing contraception if you are not happy with your current one. For more information, you can also read other articles written by our doctors, such as non-hormonal contraception methods and what types of contraceptive pill are there?
You can also visit our online contraception clinic to order the contraceptive pill, patch or ring.