Is hormonal contraception safe? Everything you need to know

Wondering how to prevent pregnancy while being sexually active? Here are the basics you must know about hormonal contraception.

antibiotics during pregnancy
OTC antibiotics can be harmful during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published on: 7 December 2022, 15:28 pm IST
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With an increasing number of couples opting for planned pregnancy for the sake of balance in their personal and professional lives, the use of contraception has gained significance. Relying on condoms or avoiding sex on ovulation days are some common ways to prevent pregnancy, but hormonal contraception has also cemented its space.

What is hormonal contraception?

Hormonal contraception is a type of medication that is used to prevent pregnancy. It works by altering the levels of certain hormones in the body, such as estrogen and progesterone. This can prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs, and it can also make the cervical mucus thicker, which can prevent sperm from reaching the egg.

Hormonal contraception can come in many forms, including pills, patches, injections, and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Hormonal contraception is generally safe for most people. However, like all medications, it can cause side effects and can interact with other medications or medical conditions. It is important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of hormonal contraception, and to discuss any concerns you may have.

Your doctor will be able to recommend the type of hormonal contraception that is right for you based on your individual needs and medical history. It is also important to follow the instructions for using the medication correctly to reduce the risk of side effects and to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Also read: Here’s how different contraception methods can affect your periods

contraception methods
The market is full of different methods of hormonal contraception. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Side effects of hormonal contraception

The most common side effects of hormonal contraception are mild and may include:

Nausea:

This is most common with oral contraceptives and may be relieved by taking the pill with food.

Breast tenderness:

This may occur with any type of hormonal contraception, but is most commonly seen with the use of pills.

Headaches:

Some people may experience headaches while using hormonal contraception.

Mood changes:

Hormonal contraception can affect mood, and some people may experience changes in their mood while using the medication.

Some adverse effects

In some cases, hormonal contraception can cause more serious side effects, such as blood clots, heart attack, or stroke.

side effects of contraceptive pills
Contraceptive pills can have side effects. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are some safe ways to avoid pregnancy?

​​Hormonal contraception is not the only option for preventing pregnancy. Some other commonly used methods of contraception include:

Barrier methods: Barrier methods, such as condoms or diaphragms, work by physically blocking sperm from reaching the egg. These methods do not contain hormones and can be used on an as-needed basis.

Copper intrauterine device (IUD): This is a small device that is placed in the uterus and releases copper, which can prevent pregnancy. The copper IUD does not contain hormones and can be effective for up to 10 years. However, there can be side effects of IUD too.

Fertility awareness methods: These methods involve tracking the menstrual cycle and avoiding sex or using a barrier method during the times when a person is most likely to be fertile.

Sterilization: This is a permanent method of contraception that involves surgically blocking the Fallopian tubes to prevent eggs from reaching the uterus.

It is important to talk to your doctor about the different contraceptive options and to choose the method that is right and safest for you.

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