Different ways to take Combined Hormonal Contraception
This involves using the contraceptive method for 21 days after which you stop using it for 7 days and during this time you will have a withdrawal bleed (period). On day 8 you start using the method again for the next 21 days, etc. This means you will always stop and start your method on the same day of the week.
This involves using the method continuously for 2-3 months without a break, after which you have a 7 day break and have a withdrawal bleed (period). You then use the method continuously for another 2-3 months before your next 7 day break. Spotting can occur while using the contraceptive method in this way but usually reduces over time/
This involves using the contraceptive method every day without a break for as long as you wish.
If you get breakthrough bleeding for 3-4 days in a row whilst using this method continuously for more than 2 weeks, stop using the method for 4 days.
Throw away the current patch or ring you are using and if using the pills, pop these 4 pills out of the packet and throw them away to ensure you keep on the correct days of the week.
After 4 days start the method again and use continuously again. Make sure you use the method for at least 14 days before taking another break.
If you are getting bleeding or spotting more than every 2 weeks, speak with the nurse or doctor who prescribed your method. You may need a check-up for infections and other causes of bleeding, or may need to try another method of contraception.
TIP: If you have something important coming up and you do not want to bleed during that time, take your 4 day break a week before, so your bleeding has finished just before you go.
IMPORTANT: Never stop your method for more than 7 days in a row.
What are the advantages of using this method?
- You will have fewer bleeding days a year.
- You can choose when you bleed
- It may help certain conditions, like premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis, painful periods.
What are the disadvantages?
- Spotting or bleeding, although not harmful and the method still works
- Side effects related to combined hormonal contraception may still occur but tend to be less with continuous or extended use.
- It may delay realising you are pregnant
How safe is extended and continuous use of combined hormonal contraception?
This use of hormonal contraception is not yet liecenced but there is no evidence that it is harmful to take it this way.