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Women's Health Information: Types Of Contraception

article pic- diff contraception

Deciding which contraception to use can be a complex process as there are lots of things to consider. Some women want to know how and if their periods may be affected, others may be concerned about the amount of hormones in their contraception. Luckily with such a range of birth control options now available in Ireland, you can find something that fits with your needs and your lifestyle.

Pill, patch, ring or LARC?

The contraceptive pill is an oral tablet containing synthetic versions of the hormones produced naturally by your body. The pill needs to be taken on a daily basis (usually at the same time) to prevent pregnancy and is the most popular contraceptive method in Ireland (bar condoms). Some women would rather not take a tablet every day and prefer to use hormonal contraception via a patch that you put on your skin, or a ring that is inserted into the vagina. The patch needs to be replaced each week and the ring stays in place for 21 days. With both these birth control methods it is usual to have a hormone free week each month. Popular brands include Evra (patch) and Nuvaring (ring).

There is also the possibility of having a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) fitted such as the bar/implant or the intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS). The depo-Provera injection is also available but we would consider other suitable methods first in women under 18.  If you need a little help deciding which one is right for you, see the tables below for guidance:

           

Pill

Mini-pill

Patch

Ring

How effective this?

99% (when taken correctly)

99% (when used correctly)

99% (when used correctly)

98% (when used correctly)

What is it and how does it work?

An oral contraceptive that you usually take each day for 21 days, then have a seven day break (some combined pills have different regimes so it is important to read the patient information leaflet that accompanies your pill to ensure you take it correctly)

An oral contraceptive that you take everyday without a break

A hormonal patch is placed on a clear area of skin and changed every seven days (on the same day of the week) for 21 days, followed by a seven day patch free break. 

A hormonal ring which you insert into your vagina for 21 days (your GP will assist you the first time). The ring is then removed (on the same day of the week as it was inserted) for a ring-free interval of seven days.

Will I have a period?

After 21 days you have a seven day break and should have a withdrawal bleed

It can vary per woman. Can be normal, irregular, lighter or no periods

After 21 days you have a seven day break andshould have a withdrawal bleed

After 21 days you have a ring-free week and should have a withdrawal bleed

Which hormones?

It depends but typically, synthetic versions of oestrogen and progesterone

The mini-pill contains a synthetic progesterone and may be suitable for those who can’t take oestrogen

Versions of oestrogen and progesterone like the ones in your body

Versions of oestrogen and progesterone like the ones in your body


LARCs are over 99% effective as once fitted and you don’t have to worry about taking a contraceptive everyday. The bar is placed in the arm and the IUD and IUS are types of coil which are in the womb and release release copper and progestogen respectively. A LARC will be fitted by a healthcare professional. See our table below to compare these:

 

IUS

IUD

Implant/Bar

How effective this?

Over 99%

Over 99%

Over 99%

What is it and how does it work?

A small, T-shaped plastic device is put into the uterus by a GP or nurse

A small plastic and copper device is put into the uterus by a GP or nurse

A small rod is put under the skin of the upper arm

How long does it last?Up to five years. When removed fertility returns to normal and you can fall pregnant within the next cycleFive to ten years depending on the type. Once removed fertility returns to normal and you can fall pregnant within the next cycleUp to three years. Once removed fertility returns to normal you can fall pregnant within the next cycle

Will I have a period?

Periods usually shorten, become lighter or stop altogether

Periods can become heavier or longer

Periods can become more irregular, infrequent, prolonged or stop altogether

Which hormones?

The IUS releases a small level of synthetic progesterone which stays local in the womb

The IUD does not release any hormones. It works by preventing fertilisation due to the effect of the copper in the coil

The implant releases synthetic progesterone and may be suitable for those who cannot take the hormone oestrogen or just want a longer acting contraceptive.


Your doctor can assist you in making the right decision on which contraceptive is right for you but if you need a prescription for the contraceptive pill, patch or ring see our contraception clinic page here