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Hormones are substances in your body that have an effect on how different parts of your body function. Some contraceptives, like the pill or the hormonal coil (IUS), also contain hormones. These hormones make sure that you don’t get pregnant.

What are hormones?

Hormones are substances in your body that make sure that your organs function properly. Hormones can have an effect on your body, your health or your mood.

What do hormones do? They:

  • help your genitals develop
  • have an effect on hair growth
  • have an effect on menstruation
  • have an effect on sperm production
  • have an effect on how your muscles grow
  • have an effect on the fat in your skin
  • can make you feel cheerful or make you feel gloomy or depressed

Sex hormones

Sex hormones made sure that you developed a penis or vagina before you were born. And during puberty, it is these hormones that make your body change. They also ensure that you can get sexually aroused and that you can have children.

  • For boys and men the most important hormone is testosterone
  • For girls and women it is oestrogens and progesterone

Hormones and contraception

Some contraceptives contain hormones. These have an effect on what happens in your body.

Progestogen and oestrogen

Different contraceptives contain different hormones in different amounts. They may contain progestogen, and sometimes also oestrogen. These are the synthetic versions of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen that occur naturally in your body. Some contraceptives contain 1 hormone, others have 2 different hormones.

Progesteron makes sure that a woman’s eggs do not mature. And if an egg is produced, then it cannot get implanted in the uterus. The hormone also makes it difficult for sperm cells to reach the egg.

Oestrogen makes sure that mucus builds up in a woman’s uterus. If you use a hormonal contraceptive, then the mucus will be released in the contraceptive-free week. This seems like natural menstrual bleeding, but is actually an artificial bleed.

I would like to use a contraceptive that doesn’t contain hormones. What are my options?

Are the hormones in contraceptives bad for you?

Your body will need 3 months to get used to the hormones. That’s why you may have side effects. These usually go away after those 3 months. Are you having problems? Then ask your doctor for a different contraceptive that contains more or less hormones than the one you are using.

Negative effects of hormones could be:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Painful breasts
  • Putting on weight
  • Slightly more risk of thrombosis and heart disease
  • Slightly more risk of some types of cancer

Positive effects of hormones could be:

  • Less acne
  • Less period pain
  • Less severe bleeding during your period
  • Slightly less risk of some types of cancer

The risks involved with hormonal contraceptives are low. Your doctor knows whether you are at any risk. Always talk to your doctor if you are going to you use contraception that contains hormones. How hormones will affect you also depends on your health, medicine use, history of family illness, age and lifestyle.

Can hormones have a psychological effect?
Which positive health effects can hormones have?