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Pills, patches, rings. It’s easy to get lost with contraception. We can help you find treatment tailored for you.
Talk to us about your health, order contraception treatment online and get it delivered from our licensed pharmacy.
Always read the leaflet that comes with your medication and tell us about any side effects you get.
We know health, but you know you.
Our experts tell you what’s safe, but you decide what’s best.
Answer a few questions and tell us about yourself. Get tailored advice from our clinicians so you can choose better.
Choose your treatment and how often you have it delivered.
We know things change. It’s the nature of life. We’ll check in regularly to make sure your treatment is still right for you.
Pause. Change. Skip. Start again. Any time you like.
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In a nutshell, contraception reduces your risk of getting pregnant. Certain types of hormonal birth control also have the added benefit of reducing some of the uncomfortable symptoms you may get around your period, and can make your period lighter and more regular.
You can take contraception for as long as you want to. Or you can switch methods or stop using it if you want to have a child. Some types of hormonal birth control are better for specific health issues or age ranges. So it’s good to check in with your clinician every now and then to make sure your birth control is still right for you.
Hormonal contraception is only available on prescription in the UK. Our clinical team will help you narrow down the best option because there are quite a few out there, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of deal.
There are four types of hormonal birth control that you take by yourself, and a few others where you’ll need a bit of guidance from a clinician or nurse before you use them.
At Treated, we offer both the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), which contains progestin and oestrogen, and the progestogen-only pill (POP), also called the mini pill. Pills need to be taken every day at around the same time to be most effective.
We also have the patch, which is applied to the skin like a plaster and changed once a week, and the vaginal ring, which is inserted into the vagina once a month.
Other types of birth control include the depo shot, the IUD (hormonal and non-hormonal) and the implant. You can’t use those without a clinician or nurse though so we don’t offer them. There are also condoms (for both men and women) and the diaphragm, which you can get at a pharmacy or sexual health clinic. These methods also protect against STIs.
It depends on you, really. If you like the comfort of taking something every day and knowing you’re protected, we recommend the combined pill or mini pill. If you’d like a more low-maintenance option, the weekly patch may be better. And if convenience is your thing, the monthly ring might be the way to go.
Formulations make a difference too. Some women prefer pills with a higher oestrogen dose, because it helps them with symptoms like vaginal dryness or low sex drive. Others prefer a lower oestrogen dose, because they’ll be less likely to get water retention or heavy periods.
The progestogen-only pill is good for women who can’t take oestrogen because of health factors, or who are breastfeeding.
So it’s very much a case of personal preference, and your health background. But we can talk you through all your options.
Family planning/ Contraception. Who.int.
Your contraception guide. NHS.
How we source info.
When we present you with stats, data, opinion or a consensus, we’ll tell you where this came from. And we’ll only present data as clinically reliable if it’s come from a reputable source, such as a state or government-funded health body, a peer-reviewed medical journal, or a recognised analytics or data body. Read more in our editorial policy.
All four of the main types of hormonal birth control (combined pill, mini pill, patch and ring) are over 99% effective when they’re used exactly right. That’s what clinicians call “perfect use”. This 99% effectiveness means that if 100 women use one of these types of birth control for one year, fewer than one will get pregnant.
“Typical” use is a bit less perfect and a lot more realistic. If you use contraception but make occasional mistakes, like forgetting a pill or putting a patch on too late, the effectiveness drops to between 91% and 94%. That means that six to nine women out of a hundred would become pregnant over the course of a year.
The best way to make sure your birth control is as effective as possible is to take it exactly as directed, which is why it’s important to find the method that works best with your lifestyle.
Hormonal birth control reduces your chances of pregnancy by changing the normal hormonal cycle in your body. It prevents ovulation, when the ovary releases an egg into your fallopian tube.
The hormones in birth control also keep the walls of your uterus from growing thicker with your cycle. When the uterine wall is thin, it’s more difficult for an egg to attach to it and grow.
The progestogen in hormonal birth control also changes the thickness of cervical fluid. This time, the hormones make it thicker. And sperm have a harder time making it through to an egg as a result.
There’s the combined pill, which usually comes in a pack of 21 pills, though some brands may vary slightly (and contain 24 or 28 pills for example). With a 21 pill pack, you’ll take a tablet a day for the duration of the pack (the first three weeks of your cycle) then have a week off — that’s when you’ll get your period. This is the most widely used type of hormonal birth control. It’s called the combined pill because it contains two hormones: progestin and oestrogen.
The patch is a combined treatment too, but instead of taking it orally you stick it on your skin like a sticker. Don’t worry – it’s designed to be worn through showers and even swimming without coming off. For three weeks a month, you’ll wear the patch for a week and then change it. Then you take a weeklong patch-free break, after which you put on a new patch and the cycle is repeated again.
The vaginal ring is also a combined method of birth control. It’s a soft, flexible piece of plastic that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks. Then you remove it, take a weeklong ring-free break and insert your next ring.
Progestogen-only pills, also called mini pills, are taken once a day continuously (without a break). They’re different from combined options because they only carry one hormone, progestin. Progestin-only pills are recommended for women who may get side effects when taking oestrogen.
Several birth control options need to be injected, inserted or administered by a clinician. These include the birth control injection, which is progestin-only and given in the arm. Depo-Provera is a popular brand of the contraceptive injection. There’s also a contraceptive implant that’s placed into the arm.
The IUD, which stands for intrauterine device, is inserted through the vagina into the uterus by a clinician or gynecologist and left in place for up to five years. There’s a hormone-free copper version (usually just called the copper IUD) and hormonal versions which are made of plastic, like the Mirena.
And we all know the condom and the diaphragm. These are called ‘barrier methods’ because they physically stop sperm from reaching an egg to fertilise it.
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