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Contraceptives - General Information 

What are they?

The name contraceptives is often used in regards to devices and medicines used in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy. They consist of one or more female sex hormones (synthetic) usually estrogen and progesterone. When used in combination they are called combined oral contraceptives (COC), those containing only progestin are termed progestin-only contraceptives (POP). They prevent pregnancy by altering the normal process of ovulation that is the process by which an egg is released from the ovary for fertilization, causes the lining of the uterus to be unable to support fertilization.


Medication available

This group of medications (contraceptives) are available as oral contraceptives (tablets), implants, intrauterine devices, patches, vaginal rings, injections for parental administration in various brands and generics.

Other methods of contraception include: condoms, sponges, diaphragms, spermicides, and cervical caps.


Types or subtypes

There are several types of contraceptives hormonal and non-hormonal (that is contraceptives methods that do not required the release of hormones). The most popular and frequently used are oral contraceptives.

Oral contraceptives: these are pills taken by women on a daily basis, these pills contain different ratios of the hormones estrogen and progestin.


What do they treat?

Used in the prevention of unwanted pregnancy.

NOTE: Oral contraceptives DO NOT protect against sexually transmittable infections.

Prescription and over the counter

All oral contraceptives require a prescription from the doctor. Some of the oral contraceptives obtained with a doctor’s prescription are:

  • Aviane® (containing Ethinyl Estradiol, Levonorgestrel)
  • Brevicon® (containing Ethinyl Estradiol, Norethindrone)
  • Demulen® (containing Ethynodiol, Ethinyl Estradiol)
  • Loestrin® (containing Ethinyl Estradiol, Norethindrone)


Safety information


Side effects

Some of the side effects involved with the use of contraceptives may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps or bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gingivitis (swelling of the gum tissue)
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Brown or black skin patches
  • Acne
  • Hair growth in unusual places
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • Changes in menstrual flow
  • Painful or missed periods
  • Breast tenderness, enlargement, or discharge
  • Swelling, redness, irritation, burning, or itching of the vagina
  • White vaginal discharge


The use of any contraceptive method is contraindicated in any one who is hypersensitive to any of the active ingredients or any ingredients used in the formulation.


Warnings and precautions


  • The use of oral contraceptives should be avoided in patients with a history of or actual blood clots.
  • It should be noted that contraceptives are not effective in terminating an existing pregnancy.
  • Oral contraceptives do not protect against HIV or any sexually transmittable disease.
  • The use of contraceptives may alter your next expected date of menses and if it is delayed by one week, pregnancy should be considered.
  • Ectopic pregnancy should be considered when women complain of lower abdominal pain or fall pregnant after taking oral contraceptives.


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