Hormonal contraception

Hormonal methods of contraception can be classified in various ways. They can be classified by the hormonal active ingredients, such as:-

  • oestrogen-free methods (or progestogen-only) and
  • combined methods (those containing oestrogen and progestogen).

They can also be classified by their ‘mode of delivery’, or the way by which the steroid hormone reaches the female body, such as:-

  • oral (taken orally as pills)
  • injectable (taken as a depot injection – one which releases its active compound in a consistent way over a long period of time)
  • dermal (through the skin using patches)
  • sub-dermal / implantable (sub-dermal implants inserted under the skin)
  • intra-uterine (via controlled-hormone-release devices inserted in the uterus)
  • intra-vaginal (via devices inserted inside the vagina such as vaginal rings)

Contraceptive pills include the combined pill which contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen, and the progesterone-only pill which contains the hormone progestogen. These are abbreviated to the COC and POP by professionals, and referred to by women in the case of the combined pill as ‘the pill’ and to the progestogen pill as the ‘mini pill’. Any sort of hormonal contraceptive requires a consultation with and careful assessment by a medical professional before it can be prescribed. Hormonal contraceptives cannot be purchased from a pharmacy over-the-counter. Hormonal contraceptives require a medical prescription.


Once the contraceptive pill or any other hormonal form of contraception has been prescribed, a thorough medical consultation is recommended every six months.