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.
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?
The answer is, it depends.
If you’re on the copper coil, you can still test with us because the copper coil doesn’t suppress ovulation.
If you’re on the hormonal IUD, you may still be ovulating, so testing can be beneficial in some instances. Read our handy guide to testing on the hormonal IUD.
If you’re on other types of hormonal contraception like the OCP, you won’t be ovulating and therefore we don’t recommend testing your hormones with our FUTURE WOMAN hormone tests as you won’t get a relevant reading for estrogen and progesterone.
If you’re on hormone therapy, you can still test with FUTURE WOMAN. This is because hormone therapy is typically body identical whereas hormone contraception is non-body identical. And while hormone contraception shuts down your own body’s hormone production, hormone therapy does not. 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.
Read more about testing and HRT in our testing with perimenopause article here.
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?
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.
I want to stay on hormonal contraception, what can I do next?
If hormonal contraception is something you wish to continue with, but you still would like help with your symptoms, you can work with one of our women’s health experts in a 1:1 consultation. They can create a personalised health plan for you to help alleviate your symptoms.
Any other questions about hormonal contraception and testing your hormones? Book a free 15 minute call with one of our experts.
- If you are on the hormonal IUD, you can test with the Advanced Hormone Test. Although be aware that your oestrogen and progesterone readings may be suppressed if you’re not ovulating.
- If you are on other types of hormonal contraception like the OCP, patch, implant or injection, we don’t recommend testing with a FUTURE WOMAN hormone tests.
- If you have the copper IUD you can still test your hormones 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.
- Our view at FUTURE WOMAN is that due to the many health benefits we prefer that you have natural cycles with ovulation for as long as possible.
- If you are looking to come off hormonal contraception this is something our FUTURE WOMAN practitioners can support you with.
- If you choose to stay on hormonal contraception you can still work with one of our women’s health experts in a 1:1 consultation.