This first article in an updated three-part series on contraception provides a practical guide to the short-acting methods – combined hormonal contraceptives (combined oral contraceptives and the vaginal ring) and the progestogen-only pill. Subsequent articles will provide updates on othe contraceptive methods.
- Combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs), which contain an oestrogen and a progestogen, are available as combined oral contraceptives (COCs) and the vaginal ring.
- The advantages of CHCs include beneficial effects on acne, a decrease in menstrual pain and bleeding and the ability to manipulate menstrual cycles.
- CHC use is associated with some serious risks, but the absolute risk is low for most women of reproductive age.
- No increased risk of venous thromboembolism or arterial vascular disease has been associated with use of the progestogen-only pill (POP), although evidence is limited.
- The option of using long-acting reversible contraceptives (intrauterine devices and subdermal implants), which require minimal ongoing user actions, should be discussed with women renewing CHC and POP prescriptions.