A guide to hormone testing

Can I test my hormones and fertility if I’m using contraception?

September 23, 2022Hertility

Key takeaways: 

  • There are 17 different types of contraception including hormonal and non-hormonal options.
  • Hormonal contraception works by altering your natural hormone levels to either prevent ovulation and/or bring about bodily changes that discourage pregnancy.
  • Non-hormonal contraception doesn’t alter your hormone levels and prevents pregnancy using a different set of methods.
  • If you’re using hormonal, or non-hormonal contraception, you can still take a Hertility Hormone and Fertility test, but your method of contraception will determine which hormones you can be tested for.

From condoms to coils, contraception (or birth control) comes in many different shapes and sizes.

And whilst our, let’s be honest, pretty dire sex education may have only taught us how to put a condom on a banana—there are actually 17 different types of contraception (who knew?). 

Contraceptive types include both hormonal contraception and non-hormonal contraception, plus long-term and short-term methods.. Whatever method works best for you is personal and will depend on your body, and if you’re using hormonal contraception—your hormones too. 

One of the top questions we get asked at Hertility is ‘but can I test my hormones and fertility if I’m using contraception?’. Well, yes and no… it really depends on which type of contraception you’re using. 

So let’s take a quick look at the different types of contraception, how they work and how each will affect a hormone test. 

First up, hormonal contraception

Hormonal contraception uses synthetic hormones, which are basically (wo)man-made versions of our natural hormones, to prevent ovulation and bring about bodily changes that prevent pregnancy.

Types of hormonal contraception include: 

  • The combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) and progesterone-only pill (mini pill or POP)
  • The contraceptive injection 
  • The contraceptive patch 
  • The progesterone-only coil (IUS)
  • The contraceptive implant 
  • The vaginal ring
How does hormonal contraception work?

To understand how hormonal contraceptives work (and how this might affect your test), it’s important to first understand exactly how your hormones control your menstrual cycle and overall fertility.

Basically, hormonal contraceptives use either a combination of synthetic oestrogen and synthetic progesterone (called progestin), or simply just progestin (depending on the type) to alter the balance of your menstrual hormones. 

This then brings about a series of bodily changes that prevent pregnancy including: 

  • Suppressing ovulation, which means preventing an egg from being released from your ovaries (this means you won’t have a normal period).
  • Thickening your cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching your womb
  • Thinning the lining of your womb (or uterus) to prevent any fertilised eggs from attaching 

Pretty clever, right?

Hormonal contraception can also be used to help relieve hormonal symptoms (like acne) and those related to your menstrual cycle (like heavy menstrual bleeding). 

Can I test my hormones if I’m on hormonal contraception?

Technically, yes you can—but because your natural hormone levels will be altered due to the synthetic hormones in your system, you won’t be able to get an accurate result of your natural menstrual cycle hormone levels, including your follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), lutenising hormone (LH), or oestradiol (E2)..

The good news is, with Hertility, even if you’re on hormonal contraception, we can still test you for Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) and your thyroid hormones—Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and Free Thyroxine (FT4). 

An AMH test will give you insight into how many eggs you’ve got left (your ovarian reserve), giving you a good idea of your current fertility and your thyroid hormone levels are a good indicator of your general hormone health. 

If you’re currently taking hormonal contraception but would like to get insight into your menstrual cycle hormones, then we’d recommend waiting for at least 3 menstrual cycles after coming off hormonal contraception before taking a test. If you’re using a long-term form of hormone contraception, such as the contraceptive injection (known as Depo Provera), you might have to wait up to 12 months for your cycles and AMH to go back to normal. 

This gives your hormones the time to regulate and get back to their natural levels, so we can get accurate results.

Non-hormonal contraception

Yep, you guessed it. These are your contraceptive types that don’t contain any hormones.

Types of non-hormonal contraception include: 

  • Male and female condoms
  • The copper coil (IUD)
  • The copper intrauterine ball (IUB)
  • Fertility awareness methods (FAMs)
  • Cervical caps and diaphragms
  • Spermicides
  • The sponge 
  • The withdrawal method
  • Male and female sterilisation
How does non-hormonal contraception work?

Non-hormonal contraceptives prevent pregnancy through a number of different methods, the difference being they tend to use just one method, rather than a combination, like in hormonal contraception. 

These include:

  • Barrier methods which physically block sperm from reaching your eggs—like condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and the sponge
  • Thickening your cervical mucus and blocking sperm from reaching your eggs
  • Simply being aware of your fertile window based on when ‘you’re due to ovulate, and abstaining from sex during that time, like fertility awareness methods. These methods are often called ‘natural contraception methods’.
Can I test my hormones if I’m on hormonal contraception?

Yep, you’re good to go! With our Hormone and Fertility Test you can test all of your menstrual cycle hormones, AMH and thyroid hormones when you’re using non-hormonal contraception. 

Ready to test your hormones and fertility?

So there you have it, there’s definitely enough on the menu when it comes to contraceptive types. 

If you’re on contraception, hormonal or non-hormonal and want to test your hormones and fertility, you can get started today by taking our online health assessment

  • All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK.  Women’s Lives, Women’s Rights: Strengthening Access to Contraception Beyond the Pandemic [Online]. (2020). [Accessed 15 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.fsrh.org/documents/full-report-december-womens-lives-womens-rights/. 
  • Statista Research Department.  Share of women using user dependent and long lasting contraceptives in England in 2019/20, by age* [Online]. (2021). [Accessed 15 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/573210/contraceptive-use-among-women-by-type-and-age-in-england/. 
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.  Endometriosis: diagnosis and management [NICE guideline [NG73]. (2017). [Accessed 15 September 2021]. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng73/resources/endometriosis-diagnosis-and-management-pdf-1837632548293. 
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.  Management of acne vulgaris in primary care [Online]. (2021). [Accessed 15 September 2021]. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/acne-vulgaris/management/primary-care-management/. 
  • Maybin, JA and Critchley, HOD. Medical management of heavy menstrual bleeding. Womens Health (Lond). 2016;12(1):27-34.
  • Thiyagarajan, DK, Basit, H and Jeanmonod, R. Physiology, Menstrual Cycle.  StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL)2021.
  • Festin, MPR. Overview of modern contraception. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2020;66:4-14.
  • Nelson, AL and Massoudi, N. New developments in intrauterine device use: focus on the US. Open Access J Contracept. 2016;7:127-41.
  • Hariton, E, Shirazi, TN, Douglas, NC, Hershlag, A and Briggs, SF. Anti-Müllerian hormone levels among contraceptive users: evidence from a cross-sectional cohort of 27,125 individuals. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2021.
  • Kucera, R, Ulcova-Gallova, Z and Topolcan, O. Effect of long-term using of hormonal contraception on anti-Müllerian hormone secretion. Gynecological Endocrinology. 2016;32(5):383-5.

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