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Contraceptives

Our Contraceptives section contains a wide range of oral contraceptive pills that are used for effective birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancy. These include combination contraceptives pills and progesterone only mini-pills also an emergency contraceptive pill. A progesterone injection is also available. Some of these contraceptives can also be used as medications for other conditions, including, menstrual problems, endometriosis, hirsutism and acne.

The different classes of Contraceptives are listed on the left of the page and when you click on one of these, the principal brand name products display in the left column and generic alternatives to the right.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. ethinylestradiol or the product name, e.g. Tricilest.

Our Combination Birth Control Pills class of contraceptives contains oral contraceptive pill, combining an estrogen and progesterone to prevent unwanted pregnancy, also an estrogen and an anti-androgen used for treating women with symptoms of high androgen levels while at the same time providing contraception.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. levonorgestrel or the product name, e.g. Microgynon.

About combination contraceptive pills

A commonly used and and effective method of birth control is the combination oral contraceptive (OC) pill. These pills contain a synthetic estrogen, usually ethinylestradiol, and a synthetic progesterone or progestin, of which several are available, combined in the same pill. Ethinylestradiol is used within the dose range that is known to prevent ovulation, but because different progestins have different potencies, their doses vary considerably.

Progestins also have different amounts of androgenic effects, which are actions that mimic the male androgen hormone and cause side effects, like acne and hirsutism (unwanted hair). Newer progestogens have very weak androgenic activity. The first generation progestin norethindone (norethisterone) has low progestational activity (prevents ovulation) and also some androgenic and estrogenic activity. Levonorgestrel and norgestrel are second generation progestins with high progestational and anti-androgen action. Desogestrel and norgestimate are third generation progestins with high progestational activity but minimal androgenic activity. Drospirenone is the newest and fourth generation progestin with a different structure, being derived from spirolactone instead of testosterone. It has high progestational activity but minimal androgenic activity and also has some effect on regulation of water and electrolytes, which helps prevent water retention.

Packs of OC pills contain one month’s supply usually 21 fixed dose combinations of hormone-containing pills, which are all the same, and 7 placebo (non-hormonal) pills, so that one pill is taken each day for a 28 day cycle. Some pills contain different dose combinations of each hormone, such that the dose of hormone increases through the month and the pills must all be taken in the correct order. Contraceptive pills are intended to be taken throughout the menstrual cycle and each monthly cycle should end with a withdrawal bleed and combination.

Combination contraceptive pills for menstrual problems

As a result of taking OC pills combining an estrogen and a progesterone, periods often become more regular, lighter, and less painful; also accompanied by an improvement in pre-menstrual symptoms, like bloating, and fluid retention. Because of this, combination OC pills may be used to treat irregular periods, primary dysmenorrhoea, which is very painful periods without a known cause, often accompanied by very heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), in women who also require contraception.

Combination contraceptive pills for androgen-related problems

Androgens are normally produced in women as well as men but usually only in small amounts. If levels are too high this can cause problems associated with excess androgen production, including hirsutism (unwanted hair), androgenic alopecia (hair loss), acne and seborrhoea (greasy skin from too much sebum). Combination pills containing an estrogen and an anti-androgen are used to combat the symptoms of androgenisation (overproduction of androgen) as well as providing effective contraception. They can also be used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome, which is caused by excess androgen. Cyproterone is the anti-androgen generally used in these combination pills and it also has some progesterone activity.
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Our Emergency Contraception class of Contraceptives includes a contraceptive pill, commonly known as the “morning after pill” used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, following unprotected sexual intercourse.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. levonorgestrel or the product name, e.g. Prostinor.

What is the “morning after pill"?

The “morning-after pill" is a single treatment used as emergency contraception after unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure, for example a burst condom or missed pill. It is most effective if taken within 24 hours of sexual intercourse but must be taken within 72 hours to be effective in reducing the chances of becoming pregnant. This pill will not have any effect on an existing pregnancy.

How does emergency contraception work?

Levonorgestrel is the same synthetic progestogen that is used in combination contraceptive pills, but is used at a much higher dose for emergency contraception. When taken as a single one-off pill, high-dose levonorgestrel can prevent ovulation or implantation of a fertilised egg, depending at what stage of the menstrual cycle it is taken. If taken within the first two weeks of the cycle it will prevent ovulation before it has taken place, which is when likelihood of fertilisation is the highest. If taken in the second two weeks of the month it helps reduces the chances of implantation by preventing changes in the endometrium that are needed for implantation of the fertilised egg. The “morning-after pill" will not prevent a pregnancy continuing if fertilization and implantation have already taken place.
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Our Progesterone Injection class of Contraceptives contains the hormone progesterone as a solution for injection, which is used for contraception, also for endometriosis.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. medroxyprogesterone or the product name, e.g. Depo Provera.

Progesterone only injection

A progesterone only contraceptive injection contains a high dose of a synthetic progestogen like medroxyprogesterone that is injected once in three months for contraception. These injections inhibit ovulation, growth and thickening of the endometrium and thinning of cervical mucus; they also suppress menstruation if used continually.

Progesterone only injection acts on the endometrium in all its locations to stop it growing and can therefore be used to treat endometriosis, which is growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, causing pain and bleeding.
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Our Progesterone Only class of contraceptives includes the single hormone contraceptive containing only low-dose progesterone also known as the mini-pill.

Use the search feature to quickly find the product you are looking for, by entering either the active ingredient, e.g. levonorgestrel or the product name, e.g. Microlut.

Progesterone only pills

The progesterone only contraceptive pill, also known as the mini pill, is a single hormone pill containing a fixed low-dose of a synthetic progestogen like desogestrel or levonorgestrel. It is taken throughout the menstrual cycle, which includes a normal menstrual bleed.

The mini-pill works as a contraceptive by preventing maturation of the egg, which inhibits ovulation. It also prevents preparation of the endometrium for implantation and thinning of cervical mucus. Taking a mini pill for contraception is particularly useful when breast feeding; also for women who are unable to use estrogen containing contraceptive pills or do not wish to take estrogen because of its associated health risks.
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Contraception and birth control

The menstrual cycle is all about preparation for pregnancy and depends on a complex interaction between female sex hormones that are produced in peaks and troughs by the ovaries at specific times in the cycle.

Estrogen stimulates egg maturation and levels peak mid-cycle to stimulate ovulation. Progesterone prepares the endometrium (lining of the uterus) for implantation of an embryo. These two hormones are under the control of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteunising hormone (LH) produced by the pituitary gland, which are in turn under the control of gonadotrophin releasing hormones produced by the hypothalamus in the brain.

Contraception or birth control is based on maintaining consistent levels of estrogen and progesterone, which disrupts normal hormonal interaction to prevent egg maturation and suppress ovulation. Contraception also prevents development of the endometrium, so that if an egg was fertilised it would not be able to implant and grow.

At ovulation cervical mucus changes consistency to become thinner. Contraceptives prevent this change so that the mucus remains thick, forming a physical barrier to sperm.

Types of oral contraceptives

Contraceptive pills contain synthetic hormones that work in the same way as natural estrogens and progesterones. There are four different types of contraceptive pill:
  • Combination contraceptive pills that contain a synthetic estrogen and a synthetic progesterone.

  • Progesterone alone pills contain a low dose of a synthetic progesterone, and are known as the mini-pill.

  • Combination pills that contain a synthetic estrogen and an anti-androgen are used to treat women with symptoms of high androgen levels, while at the same time providing contraception.

  • Emergency contraceptive pill contains a high dose of synthetic progesterone and is known as the morning-after pill, as it is a one-off pill taken after unprotected sex.

Contraceptive injection

A synthetic progesterone in an injectable form can also be used for contraception.
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