Birth Control Pills, Patch, or Ring
How It Works
Birth control hormones in Reference pills, skin patches, or vaginal rings Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window give you a regular dose of Reference estrogen Opens New Window and Reference progestin Opens New Window. This controls your body's Reference menstrual cycles Opens New Window and prevents pregnancy. It also helps relieve heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and sometimes premenstrual mood problems and bloating.
In the Reference perimenopausal Opens New Window years before menopause, hormone levels go up and down a lot. Using birth control hormones may help relieve some of the symptoms women have in the years before menopause.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills, also called oral contraceptives, come in packs. The most common type has 3 weeks of hormone pills. Some packs have pills without hormones (sugar pills) for the fourth week, and some do not. During that fourth no-hormone week, you have your menstrual period. After the fourth week (28 days), you start a new pack.
For some kinds of pills, such as Seasonique and Seasonale, you take 12 weeks of hormone pills followed by 1 week of low-estrogen or no-hormone pills. On this schedule, you have four periods a year. If your doctor prescribes an Reference unlabeled use Opens New Window for other birth control pills, you can also have four periods a year. You take the active hormone pills continuously for 12 weeks, followed by 1 week of sugar pills. You then start a new pack of pills. If you have breakthrough bleeding during the 3 months, your doctor will prescribe extra estrogen.
Another kind of pill, such as Lybrel, comes in 4-week packs of hormone pills, which you take every day of the year. On this schedule, you have no periods.
For more information, see Reference how to take birth control pills.
Birth control skin patch
The Reference birth control patch Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window is a patch [about 1.75 in. (4.5 cm) square] that sticks firmly on your skin. You can wear it on your lower abdomen, buttocks, or upper arm. Each patch releases estrogen and progestin through your skin for 7 days. Over a 4-week period, you use one patch each week for 3 weeks, and then no patch for 1 week. During this week, you have your menstrual period.
For more information, see Reference how to use the patch.
Birth control vaginal ring (CVR)
The vaginal ring is small [about 2 in. (5 cm) in diameter], flexible, and colorless. It releases a continuous low dose of hormones into the vagina to prevent pregnancy for that month.
You insert the vaginal ring yourself and leave it in place for 3 weeks. This gives you continuous birth control for the month. On the first day of the fourth week, you remove the ring and usually have a menstrual period. The exact position of the ring in the vagina is not critical for it to work.
For more information, see Reference how to use a vaginal ring.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: May 3, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology