how it works, the risks and benefits

7 minutes to read

Do you know what a contraceptive is? Well, chances are you’ve heard that they are medications used to prevent a pregnancy from occurring. And it’s right there!

However, few people stop to think about what contraceptives represent for women’s lives and for their health. Have you ever done this kind of reflection?

Throughout our chat today, we will address not only the importance of contraceptives, but also how they work. After all, it is essential that you know well about this subject so that you can make conscious decisions about your own body. Let’s go!

What are contraceptives?

Contraceptives are hormonal drugs that aim to prevent pregnancy in women. They are methods that act directly on the female body, differentiating themselves from other contraceptive strategies, such as the IUD, condoms and much more.

It is worth emphasizing that these drugs are not intended to prevent the occurrence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Therefore, the combined use of condoms is recommended for everyone.

What is its social importance?

In addition to being a great medicine for women’s health, contraceptives have great historical and social importance. Developed around the 1960s, they revolutionized the female role in the world and allowed women to reach places that would not have been possible before.

From the possibility of planning the pregnancy, women gained greater autonomy for their bodies and their lives. With that, it was possible for them to also start planning their careers, reaching positions in the job market, and dedicating themselves to their dreams.

In a way, then, it is possible to say that contraceptives were an important step forward for movements such as feminism. And maybe you don’t know, but today there are already very promising research on contraceptives for male use.

What are your benefits?

In the previous topic, we talked about two important benefits of contraceptives: pregnancy prevention and women’s greater control over their own lives. However, there are also other advantages and indications of using the pill. Some good examples are:

  • symptom control in cases of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS);
  • reduction of symptoms of premenstrual tension (PMS);
  • treatment of colic;
  • treating issues such as endometriosis;
  • reduced menstrual flow;
  • regularization of menstruation.

What are the types of contraceptives?

There are several types of contraceptives, a name given exclusively to medicines that act hormonally in the body. Other contraceptive methods are called “barrier methods”.

Check out some contraceptive methods below!


They are the most famous form of birth control. They should be taken daily, preferably at the same time.


The contraceptive injection can be applied monthly or every 3 months, depending on your doctor’s indication.


It is literally a patch that must be placed on the skin weekly. Therefore, every 7 days, you must change the product and take a break of one week after 3 used patches.


The vaginal ring is a product placed inside the vagina. It is changed monthly.


The implant is a very small device that, as the name says, is implanted in the patient’s skin. It can be changed every 6 months, 1 year and even every 3 years depending on the brand.


Finally, there is the IUD, the intrauterine device. It can be just a barrier method – known as a copper IUD – or also release hormones in the woman’s body.

What is the contraceptive prescribed for?

Your gynecologist may prescribe contraceptives for various purposes. After all, in addition to preventing pregnancy, it helps in the treatment of other problems, especially those of a reproductive nature. Examples are Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and endometriosis.

However, it is also possible to use the pill for other purposes. For example, when the woman uses drugs that are incompatible with pregnancy. An example is the treatment of issues such as androgenetic alopecia, which requires the use of drugs that can harm the fetus.

In these cases, the contraceptive itself can also help, blocking male hormones (testosterone) in the woman’s body and acting as a coadjuvant in the treatment of the dermatological problem. Cool, isn’t it?

How does it work?

Each contraceptive has its route of action. However, the main objective of all of them is to maintain hormone levels at rates that prevent the woman from entering the ovulation period.

The female menstrual cycle is a very complex chain of events. In it, hormones are activated and deactivated, causing other processes to start or end. In this case, the goal is to prevent ovulation “triggers” from happening and, with that, prevent female fertility.

Therefore, it is very important that you always take your pill at the same time, ensuring that the hormone rates are stable in your body. Or, of course, that you change the contraceptive method (such as a ring, patch or others) within the foreseen period.

Are contraceptives bad?

This is a very frequently asked question. After all, are contraceptives bad for health? The answer is: it depends.

As much as it brings many benefits, we cannot forget that we are talking about a medicine. Thus, self-medication should not be practiced. The prescription of contraceptives can only be made by a gynecologist, sometimes in partnership with other professionals, such as the hepatologist and the endocrinologist.

This is because there are some contraindications for its use, such as cases of circulation problems, risk of stroke and thromboembolism and, of course, liver problems.

So, when wondering if contraceptives make you fat or do any harm to your health, keep in mind that everything will depend on your body. So prior exams and a good chat with the gynecologist are key to a correct prescription, ok?

As we can see, contraceptives are a very important strategy for women’s health. However, they should be prescribed with caution, based on the detailed analysis of a good professional. So, consult your doctor and ask your questions about the best pill for your health!

Enjoy and also discover some details about what happens to a woman’s body after childbirth, discovering the precautions that cannot be left out of this period of her life.

Technical review: Alexandre R. Marra, researcher at the Instituto Israelita de Ensino e Pesquisa Albert Einstein (IIEP) and permanent professor at the Graduate Program in Health Sciences at the Faculdade Israelita de Ciências da Saúde Albert Einstein (FICSAE).


Leave a Reply