UNDERSTANDING THE HORMONES IN YOUR BODY
YOU ARE YOUR HORMONES
Hormones are naturally occurring molecules that act like messengers in your body. They regulate many important body functions, including growth, hunger, thirst, and mood. The so-called reproductive hormones, influence puberty, your sexual desire and your ability to become pregnant. A rise and fall of these hormones in people with female reproductive organs creates and controls what is called the menstrual or monthly cycle.
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS
The Hormonal Coil is a small, soft T-shaped plastic frame that releases low levels of a progestin hormone for up to 3 to 8 years. It is given with a prescription and placed in your womb by a doctor or nurse.
The Copper Coil is a small, T-shaped plastic frame that has a copper wire. it is given with a prescription and placed in your womb by a doctor or nurse, where it prevents pregnancy for up to 5 to 10 years.
A small, flexible silicone rod that releases hormones for up to 3 years. It is given with a prescription and placed under the skin of your upper arm by a doctor or nurse.
Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP)
COCPs are tablets that may have to be taken every day, releasing the hormone progestogen and oestrogen to prevent pregnancy. They are often referred to as the pill and you will need a prescription from your healthcare professional for these.
An injection containing a hormone that is given with a prescription and administered by a doctor or nurse every 12-13 weeks.
A small, thin, skin-coloured plastic square that sticks to the skin and releases hormones. It is given with a prescription and can be self-administered once a week.
A silicone cup placed in the vagina that prevents sperm from reaching the womb. Your doctor or nurse will normally conduct an initial fitting to make sure you have the correct size.
A small, flexible ring that is self-administered with a prescription and placed in the vagina, where it releases hormones for 3 weeks.
An internal condom placed in the vagina that stops sperm from reaching the vagina whilst also helping protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is self-administered and bought over the counter.
A sheath placed over the erect penis to stop sperm from reaching the vagina whilst also helping protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is self-administered and bought over the counter.
Progestogen-only Pill (POP)
POPs are tablets which have to be taken every day at the same time with no break between packs. These pills only contain a progestogen hormone and so they can be taken by women for whom oestrogen-containing options are not suitable. They are also known as the mini-pill and you will need a prescription from your healthcare professional for these..
Self-directed methods of avoiding pregnancy that include menstrual cycle tracking and body temperature measurements to identify fertile days.
Spermicides are Creams, films, foams, gels and suppositories that contain chemicals to stop or kill sperm. These are bought over the counter and are self-administered.
Also known as ‘The pull-out method’, this self-directed method involves withdrawing the penis prior to ejaculation to avoid pregnancy.
A medical procedure performed by a doctor or nurse that blocks the fallopian tubes so the egg cannot travel down the tubes to meet the sperm.
NEED ADVICE? SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
Seek out an appointment with your doctor or nurse for further support that meets your needs.
1. Hiller-Sturmhöfel S, Bartke A. The endocrine system: an overview. Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):153-64.
2. Alvergne A, Lummaa V. Does the contraceptive pill alter mate choice in humans? Trends Ecol Evol. 2010 Mar; 25(3):171-9.
3. The Hormone Health Network, Hormones. Available at: https://www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/hormones. [Accessed April 2021].
4. NHS, Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/ [Accessed April 2021].
5. UCSF Health, The Menstrual Cycle. Available at: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/the_menstrual_cycle/ [Accessed April 2021].