How does Hormonal Contraception Work?
Contraception - Hormonal contraceptives prevent the natural process of fertilisation and baby growth in women by influencing the normal hormonal functions of your body.
Hormonal contraceptives disrupt the normal reproductive function in women, i.e. the release of eggs by ovary and its fertilisation by a man’s sperm received in a sexual intercourse and subsequent occurrences of pregnancy. The pills that alter the normal hormonal functions in your body to prevent pregnancy contain synthetic oestrogen and progestin, hormones that inhibit the natural hormonal process for preventing pregnancy.
After fertilisation, the woman’s egg gets attached to the uterus to get nourishment from the mother and grow into a baby. The hormones which are responsible for the release of eggs from the ovary and also make the body ready for accepting it are influenced by the hormonal contraceptives. The hormones in the contraceptives work in three ways to prevent pregnancy. These are actually three levels on which the oestrogen and progestin can influence the normal reproductive process.
How is Pregnancy Prevented by Hormonal Contraceptives
- The release of eggs from the ovary is stopped as a result of the contraceptive.
- The mucus from the womb’s neck, called cervix, gets thickened. This makes the easy passage for sperm to the womb for fertilising the egg, more difficult.
- The lining of your womb is rendered too thin for the fertilised egg to get implanted.
Women have the option of taking the contraceptive pill that contains only progestin or both progestin and oestrogen. It might be needed for breastfeeding mothers or others who have a problem with oestrogen. The essential precaution that you need to observe with progestin-only pills is that they must be taken at the same time of the day every time. If you happened to miss a pill and it strikes you after 3 hours, the situation becomes unsafe for preventing pregnancy. Barrier contraceptive methods such as condom might be needed for the next 2 days.
Women also have the option of an extended-cycle pill use now-a-days. They reduce the number of your menstrual periods from 13 a year to 4. But they need to be taken in longer cycles. Women menstruate only once in every season.
Emergency contraceptive pills can also be used by women. This is needed in those circumstances when you have had unprotected sex and want to make sure that you do not conceive. Such a hormonal contraceptive, also called morning-after pill has the same effect; preventing the release of eggs or not allowing it to attach to the uterus. It should not be made a habit to use the emergency pill as it has many harmful side-effects.
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Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Aug 16, 2011
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