Hormonal Birth Control: Who Can and Can't Use It

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Hormonal Birth Control: Who Can and Can't Use It

Topic Overview

The following table lists the recommendations and contraindications for hormonal methods of birth control.

What to consider when using hormonal methods of birth control
Consideration Combination pills, skin patch, or vaginal ring (estrogen plus progestin) Progestin-only pills or shot
Recommended for women who:
  • Are healthy
  • Are breast-feeding (6 weeks after delivery)
  • Smoke (if younger than 35) without other health risks
  • Have diabetes (if younger than 35) without complications
  • Have controlled high blood pressure and do not smoke
  • Have controlled cholesterol levels
  • Have had an abortion
  • Cannot take estrogen. Health risks related to estrogen use are not present with progestin-only pills.
  • Are breast-feeding
  • Have migraines with aura
  • Have high blood pressure or coronary artery disease
  • Smoke and are older than 35
  • Have sickle cell disease
Not recommended for women who:
  • Are or may be pregnant
  • Have active breast cancer or history in past 5 years
  • Have undiagnosed abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Have active hepatitis
  • Have active colitis
  • Are taking certain medicines (check with your doctor)

Related Information


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised July 6, 2010

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