Birth Control Medications (Contraceptives)
Omnia M Samra, MD
Mary L Windle, PharmD
Suzanne R Trupin, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
Birth Control Medications Introduction
Birth control (contraceptive) medications contain hormones (estrogen and progesterone, or progesterone alone). The medications are available in various forms, such as pills, injections (into a muscle), topical (skin) patches, and slow-release systems (vaginal rings, skin implants, and contraceptive-infused intrauterine devices [Mirena]).
Choosing which estrogen and progesterone dose, type, and administration method is highly patient specific, meaning that the choice greatly depends on factors unique to an individual. General goals are to choose a product that provides good menstrual cycle control with the fewest adverse (side) effects and to use the lowest hormone dose possible. After beginning birth control medications, it may be necessary to adjust the dose or to choose a different product.
The estrogens and progesterones contained in birth control medications available in the United States include the following:
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