How to switch from one contraceptive to another – Blog Dexeus Woman

In general, if you use a contraceptive method that suits you, you do not have to change it, because most are treatments based on the administration of hormones that require time for our body to adapt and we can assess whether it is comfortable and effective. . But there are situations in which it is necessary, either because it causes unwanted side effects – bleeding or headaches, for example, which are some of the most frequent -, it does not quite fit our needs or it is not comfortable for us.

It may also happen that we have to move to a country where the same brand does not market, or that our personal circumstances change and we want to try another method that is appropriate to the new situation.

Whatever the reason, the key question is: how do you transition? And can it cause any mismatch? The answer is yes – although it does not have to happen – and the reason is that the hormonal doses are not always exactly the same, nor are the route of administration, the composition or the type of hormones they contain. Therefore, you should always inform your gynecologist of the reason for the change, so that they can advise you which alternative may be the best for you.

In this post, the Dr. María Súarez, a gynecologist specialized in contraception at our center, offers useful information on this subject, although she remembers: each case must be addressed individually and change must always be done under medical supervision and monitoring.

What is important to know:

  • Above all, avoid being exposed to periods of lack of protection. If you want to change, it is very important to know how long the new contraceptive method needs to be effective and how long it takes the old method to stop working.
  • You may have to overlap them. Remember that, in some cases, it may be necessary to start the new treatment before finishing the other.
  • Extra protection. In some cases, you may need to use an additional barrier method to protect yourself for a few days, until the new method begins to take effect.
  • If the problem is that estrogens do not work for you, what you should do is consult a gynecologist for advice.
  • When making the switch, you should bear in mind that combined hormonal contraceptives may be marketed with or without placebos tablets.. The placebo ones do not contain hormones and are included so that the treatment is easier for you to follow and do not forget the date on which you have to start the next blister.

Some helpful hints:

  • Switching from a combined contraceptive pill to a combined one. In general, it is advisable to start the new treatment the day after having taken the last active pill (with hormones) of the previous method, without leaving the rest week, thus we would maintain the contraceptive effect at all times, only that that month we would not have the deprivation or lack bleeding. If you do not do it often, it could be started in the next 7 days after taking the last active tablet, but never later than the 7th day, since then you would be at risk of pregnancy.
  • Switching from the contraceptive pill to the vaginal ring: The hormones in the vaginal ring are absorbed locally and faster than birth control pills. It is recommended to start using it after taking the last active tablet (with hormones) of the oral treatment. If you do not do it often, it could be started within 7 days of the last active tablet, but never later than the 7th day, since then you would be at risk of pregnancy.
  • From vaginal ring to ring from another brand: You can put it on immediately as soon as you take it off, or at the latest after the week off. As always when a hormonal change occurs, a period of adaptation of the body to the new treatment is necessary. The composition can be different, so you can have bleeding outside the bye week and other disorders of hormonal origin: headache, mood swings, more bleeding, etc.
  • Changing from the contraceptive patch or vaginal ring to the pill. After removing the patch, you can start taking the pill immediately on the same day, or at the latest and in order not to lose contraceptive efficacy on the day when you would have to put the patch back on, and the same in the case of the ring. .
  • Switching from the pill to the hormonal or copper IUD. IUDs can be put in at any time during the cycle, but it is advisable to place them coinciding with the period, because this way their placement hurts less and we make sure that there is no pregnancy. In this case, it is also advisable to use a barrier method –such as a condom– for a month in order not to lose contraceptive efficacy and to give the body time to adapt to the IUD. If it’s a copper IUD, you can stick with the pills during that fitting month. But if it is a hormonal IUD, it is convenient to leave the pills so that the body adapts to the new method.
  • Switching from copper IUD to hormonal IUD or vice versa: It can be inserted immediately after removing the old IUD. Generally, the change from copper IUD to hormonal IUD is to decrease the number of days of bleeding and avoid some unwanted side effects such as excessive bleeding or pain. If it is from a hormonal IUD to a copper IUD, the objective is usually to avoid the administration of hormones because we do not tolerate their side effects well, such as swelling, headaches or mood changes.

In general, remember that it is necessary to wait a period of three months to assess whether the new method is going well for you, and in case of any doubt or irregularity, always consult your gynecologist.

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How to switch from one contraceptive to another – Blog Dexeus Woman

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Catherine Coaches