Hormonal Methods of Family Planning 207
These methods contain hormones, called estrogen and progestin,
that are similar to the estrogen and progesterone a woman makes
in her own body. Hormonal methods include:
• pills, which a woman • injections,
• implants, which are
takes every day.
which are given put into a woman’s
arm and last for
Hormonal methods work by preventing the woman’s ovaries
from releasing an egg. The hormones also make the mucus at the
opening of the womb very thick, which helps stop the sperm from
getting inside the womb.
Most birth control pills and some injections contain both
estrogen and progestin. These are called ‘combination’ pills or
injections. The two hormones work together to give excellent
protection against pregnancy. However, some women should not
use pills or injections with estrogen for health reasons, or because
they are breastfeeding (see page 209).
‘Progestin-only’ pills (also called mini-pills), implants, and some
injections contain only one hormone—progestin. These methods
are safer than combined pills or injections for women who should
not use estrogen, or are breastfeeding (see page 209).
These women should avoid any kind of hormonal method:
• Women who have breast cancer, or a hard lump in
the breast (see page 382). Hormonal methods do
not cause cancer. But if a woman already has breast
cancer, these methods can make it worse.
• Women who might be pregnant or
whose monthly bleeding is late (see
• Women who have abnormal bleeding from
the vagina during the 3 months before
starting hormonal methods (see page 360).
They should see a health worker to find out
if there is a serious problem.
Some hormonal methods are harmful for women with other
health problems. Be sure to check each method to see if it is safe
for you. If you have any of the health problems mentioned and
still wish to use a method, talk to a health worker who has been
trained in hormonal methods of family planning.
do not protect
against STIs or HIV.
➤ A woman controls
and they can be
used without a man
➤ Some medicines
for seizures (“fits”),
for tuberculosis (TB),
or for HIV make
less effective. A
woman taking these
use another family
planning method or
combine it with a
second method such
as a condom or a
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012