Hormonal Contraception and Testing

Testing and hormonal contraception

In this article we cover the different types of hormonal contraception, how they work and whether you can test your hormones while using different types of hormonal contraception.

What are the most common types of hormonal contraception?

When we are discussing hormonal contraception here, we are specifically talking about the oral contraceptive pill, the implant, the patch and the ring. 

The copper coil is not considered hormonal contraception as the copper coil does not suppress ovulation or the natural production of estrogen or progesterone. 

The hormonal IUD is a form of hormonal contraception, but it has a different mechanism of action and doesn’t aim to suppress ovulation. If you’re looking to test on the hormonal IUD, read our handy guide to testing on the IUD.

How does hormonal contraception work?

Hormonal contraception acts to shut down the natural production of your hormones from the ovaries. The way it works is that hormonal contraception suppresses the FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinising hormone) surge from the pituitary gland in the brain, that in turn suppresses estrogen. This then suppresses ovulation which means no progesterone is produced (remember progesterone is only made as a result of ovulation). 

So if you’re on hormonal contraception, you are not naturally producing estrogen or progesterone.

Can you test your hormones on hormonal contraception?

Yes, you can absolutely test! But read on to find out which test might be right for you.

If you’re on the copper coil, you can test with any of our FUTURE WOMAN hormone tests, because the copper coil doesn’t suppress ovulation.

If you’re on the hormonal IUD, testing can be hugely beneficial. And if you’re still ovulating (many women are on the IUD), then we’ll be able to assess your oestrogen and progesterone levels too. The key is to identify the right day, as you might be ovulating but not getting a period. See our section on when to test below, or read our handy guide to testing on the hormonal IUD.

If you’re on other types of hormonal contraception like the OCP, we’d recommend testing only with the Advanced Hormone Test. Oestrogen and progesterone levels will appear suppressed in your test results, because you’re not ovulating. However, there are many markers in this test that will provide valuable information for you, including adrenal hormones (hello stress), nutrients (which can become depleted with OCP use), inflammation, hormone metabolism and gut health (which is often compromised when our hormonal fluctuations are switched off). For clients with PCOS, testosterone and androgen levels can also be assessed.

If you’re on hormone therapy, you can still test with any FUTURE WOMAN test. In fact, if you’re on HRT, we strongly suggest you do test every 6 months in order to make sure you are safely metabolising your hormones like estrogen and that you’re on the right type and dosage.

Read more about testing and HRT in our testing with perimenopause article here.

Hormone testing on the pill with FUTURE WOMAN

Which day can I test on hormonal contraception?

If you’re on hormonal contraception, and are getting a monthly withdrawal bleed, then please test on Days 19, 20 or 21.

If you’re on hormonal contraception and are NOT getting a monthly withdrawal bleed, then you can test on any day.

If you’re on the hormonal IUD, and you are getting a monthly period, then read our handy guide to finding your testing day here

If you’re on the hormonal IUD, and you aren’t getting a period, but you are still noticing cyclical symptoms such as breast tenderness, mood changes or skin breakouts, then you may be ovulating. You can use ovulation test sticks to work out your ovulation date, and then count forward 5-7 days to find your testing date. 

If you’re on the hormonal IUD, and you aren’t getting a period or noticing any cyclical symptoms then you can test on any day. This is likely in the first year or so of use, while the synthetic hormone levels are at their highest.

Should I come off hormonal contraception?

We recommend speaking to your GP before making any changes to your approach to contraception. However, at FUTURE WOMAN we do encourage clients to have natural cycles for as long as possible. This is because of the MANY benefits our hormones offer us throughout the body, which are important even if you are not looking to conceive. 

For example, research has shown that progesterone is beneficial for bone and breast health, immune function, sleep quality and mood. And estrogen is important for the growth and maintenance of the skeleton, for brain health, for metabolic health and for preventing insulin resistance. 

I want to come off hormonal contraception, when can I test oestrogen and progesteron?

If you’re interested in testing your oestrogen and progesterone levels after coming off the pill, then we recommend coming off hormonal contraception for at least two to three cycles before testing – three is ideal to ensure the brain is communicating with the ovaries efficiently again, as this communication pathway becomes dysregulated when on hormonal contraception. 

You may benefit from additional support from a FUTURE WOMAN practitioner as you come off hormonal contraception. This is particularly helpful if you went on hormonal contraception to manage symptoms and are worried about them coming back. Our practitioners can prepare a comprehensive health plan to help smooth this transition. 

If this is something you are interested in please feel free to book a 1:1 consultation with our women’s health experts.  

Key Takeaways

  • If you are on hormonal contraception, you can test with the Advanced Hormone Test. Although be aware that your oestrogen and progesterone readings will be suppressed because you’re not ovulating.
  • If you are on the hormonal IUD, you may still be ovulating, in which case we can still assess oestrogen and progesterone. We would still recommend the Advanced Hormone Test.
  • If you have the copper IUD, you can test your hormones with any FUTURE WOMAN hormone test as it does not interfere with hormone production or ovulation. 
  • If you’re on HRT, you can test and we strongly encourage you to do so.

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