COVID-19 update: Our service is operating as normal.

How hormonal contraceptives work


Order Your contraceptive pill online

Yasmin is a hormonal contraceptive that can be prescribed by our doctors. Check out our prices and start your order.

Read More

Order your birth control pill, ring or patch with DoktorABC. Our full medical service includes a prescription, medication and free delivery.

What are hormonal contraceptives?

A hormonal contraceptive is any medication or device that delivers extra hormones to your body to stop you from getting pregnant. Types of hormonal contraceptives available in the UK include the following:

  • Combined/micro pill
  • Mini pill
  • Evra patch
  • NuvaRing

What is the difference between hormones and synthetic hormones?

Your body produces different types of hormones (and in different amounts) throughout your life. Your hormones influence and regulate how your body functions, as well as your moods, emotions, and behaviour to a certain extent.

Bodily hormones also control your reproductive cycle. Hormonal contraceptives alter the balances of hormones to manipulate some functions of the reproductive cycle and prevent pregnancy.

Contraceptives use synthetic hormones that mimic naturally occurring bodily hormones. This is to guarantee standard doses, uniform quality and to allow mass production of contraceptives (over three million UK women are currently using hormonal contraceptives).

Which hormones are used in contraceptives?

There are many different types of synthetic hormones used in hormonal contraception. They all replicate a natural hormone that is produced in your ovaries. There are two of these core hormones: oestrogen and progesterone.

Oestrogen and progesterone based contraceptives

  • Combined/Micro pills
  • NuvaRing
  • Evra patch

Progesterone based contraceptives

  • Mini pills

Oestrogen and progesterone (combined contraceptives) work on three levels to prevent pregnancy. They prevent ovulation, stimulate the production of cervical mucus to block sperm, and thin the womb lining to prevent fertilised eggs from attaching.

Progesterone only contraceptives (mini pills) rely on increased production of cervical mucus to block sperm. The exceptions are the brands of mini pill that use the synthetic hormone desogestrel; these also prevent ovulation.

Do I need a prescription for hormonal contraceptives?

UK women need a prescription for any form of hormonal contraception. This is because they may have side effects and their use needs to be regulated. The good news is that the pill has been in worldwide use since the 1960s and the side effects of (most forms of) hormonal contraception are well understood by doctors and scientists. Doctors will usually consider prescribing some form of hormonal contraception to most healthy women, providing that they meet the compulsory health requirements.

You can conveniently renew your current hormonal contraceptive prescription online at DoktorABC. Take a minute to fill in our short online medical questionnaire and our duty GP will immediately check whether you have any medical problems that will prevent us from renewing your prescription. If there are no health issues, your order will be processed immediately. Checkout price includes your prescription, hormonal contraceptive and next day delivery by UPS courier.


Order Your contraceptive pill online

Yasmin is a hormonal contraceptive that can be prescribed by our doctors. Check out our prices and start your order.

Read More

How effective are hormonal contraceptives?

Hormonal contraceptives are potentially almost 100% effective if used according to instructions. The actual level of protection that they offer depends on the brand and type, on whether you use them correctly, and on how your individual body functions.

The effectiveness of contraceptives has been studied and is being monitored. Research results are calculated into what is called the pearl-index. If out of 100 women using the same contraceptive over a year, one becomes pregnant, the pearl index is: 1. If 5 out of 100 women using the same contraceptive over a whole year become pregnant, the pearl index will be: 5. In other words, the lower the pearl-index, the safer the birth-control method.

Hormonal contraceptives produce a pear index beneath 1 (less than 10 out of 1000 women using the method over a year become pregnant). Condoms, as an example, reach a pearl index of 2 - 12. (meaning 2 -12 out of 1000 women, whose partners use condoms over a year become pregnant).

How effective is the pill?

The pill is considered one of the safest contraceptives available if you use them completely correctly. The pearl index for the combined pills varies from 0.1 - 0.9, for the mini-pill the variance is a little wider: 0.5 to 3. The variance in the index for the pill is due to different types of pills and some women not following the instructions. The index for both, the patch and the vaginal ring, lie within the range of the combined pill.

One reason for the deviation is because some women will forget to take the pill on time, take the wrong pill on the wrong day (multiphasic pills), or will suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea and not follow up with a replacement pill.

How to use hormonal contraception effectively

  • Make sure that you are using a form of contraception that matches your personal circumstances. Will you remember to take a daily pill, or is it wiser to use NuvaRing or an Evra patch?
  • Follow our GP’s instructions exactly and use your contraception correctly at all times.
  • Read the manufacturer’s leaflet and keep it with your contraception. If you forget to take a pill or apply a device, suffer diarrhoea or vomiting, or have any problems with a device, refer to the leaflet immediately and follow the instructions exactly.
What you need to know about homonal contreception

What are the advantages of hormonal contraceptives?

Hormonal contraceptives put you firmly in control of your own fertility and potentially allow you to enjoy uninterrupted sex without a condom*. Some forms of hormonal contraceptives may bring additional health benefits. If you suffer from PMS, heavy periods, period pains, acne or oily skin, a regular dosage of artificial hormones can often ease these conditions.

The combined pill Dianette, as an example, contains a hormone called cyproterone acetate. It is a progestogen and an anti-androgen that may reduce facial hair growth over time. Combined pills may also reduce the risk of some medical conditions, including pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.

There is a wide range of contraceptive types and brands (including generics) available on prescription in Britain. Our online GPs use a short medical questionnaire to check your health requirements and make sure that any repeat prescriptions will be safe for you to use.

In order to give you a better user experience, we use cookies. By using Doktorabc website you agree to our Cookies Policy.