Whether or not you can test your hormones and fertility while on birth control depends on the type of birth control you use.
Despite most of us only being able to reel off a handful, there are actually 17 different types of birth control, or contraception. These include both hormonal and non-hormonal options, plus, long-term and short-term methods.
Whatever method of contraception works best for you is personal and will depend on your goals, your body and if you choose to use hormonal contraception, your hormones too.
So, from condoms to coils, let’s take a look at the different types of birth control, how they work, and how each will affect a hormone and fertility test.
- What is hormonal contraception?
- How does hormonal contraception work?
- Can I test my hormones if I’m on hormonal contraception?
- What is non-hormonal contraception?
- How does non-hormonal contraception work?
- Can I test my hormones if I’m on non-hormonal contraception?
- Do I need a hormone test?
What is hormonal contraception?
Hormonal contraception uses synthetic hormones, which are basically (wo)man-made versions of our natural hormones, to either prevent us from ovulating and/or to 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.
Your menstrual cycle hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) and testosterone, all work together to ensure that each month you ovulate a healthy, mature egg from one of your ovaries.
If any of these hormone levels are altered, disrupted or suppressed, your overall menstrual cycle and ovulation can be affected—impacting your fertility and ability to conceive.
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 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
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 FSH, 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).
Taking a Hertility Hormone & Fertility Test to test your AMH will give you insight into how many eggs you’ve got left (your ovarian reserve), giving you a good idea of your current fertility. Your thyroid hormone levels are a good indicator of your general hormone health and remain unaffected by taking any hormonal contraception.
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 menstrual cycle hormones to regulate and get back to their natural levels, so we can get an accurate result.
These are your contraceptive types that don’t contain any synthetic hormones, and won’t alter your natural hormone levels if you use them.
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
- 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, the sponge and spermicides
- Thickening your cervical mucus and blocking sperm from reaching your eggs—like the IUD and IUB
- 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 (FAMS). These methods are often called ‘natural contraception methods’ and include things like fertile window tracking and natural cycles.
- Complete sterilisation is when in those assigned-female-at-birth, your fallopian tubes are blocked or sealed, preventing ovulation from occurring. In those assigned male-at-birth, tubes carrying sperm to the penis are cut, blocked or sealed, preventing sperm from being ejaculated.
Can I test my hormones if I’m on non-hormonal contraception?
Yes, you’re good to go! Non-hormonal contraception does not alter any of your natural hormone levels, so 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.
Do I need a hormone test?
Testing your hormones and fertility can give you important insights into both your overall and reproductive health.
Whether you’re experiencing possible hormonal symptoms, or planning ahead for your future family forming options—testing can help give you clarity into what’s going on inside your body.
Our At-home Hormone & Fertility Test is personalised to you and based on your unique biometrics, medical history, cycle and symptoms. Our test will screen you for up to 18 reproductive health conditions and give you insights into your ovarian reserve. This can help you to identify any potential underlying health conditions or hormonal imbalances that could affect your chances of conceiving.
We recommend regular testing—once a year, or every six months if you’re above 35 or have an underlying condition that might affect fertility. Because our hormones are constantly changing, regular testing helps to ensure you’re tracking any changes over time. This can help you to better manage any symptoms and measure the success of any lifestyle changes or medication if you need to.
So, whether you’re curious about your health, planning for future children or trying to conceive, regular hormone testing with our At-Home Hormone & Fertility Tests could be an essential step toward understanding your reproductive health.
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 today.
- 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.
- 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.