Do people need breaks from contraception?
Many people have heard that it's good to have a break from from hormonal contraception.
Some people might want to check that their periods are still normal, or to give their bodies a rest.
Is a break good for health?
It does no harm to be on contraception for many years.
There is no medical need to have a break from hormones, and it's safe to be on hormonal contraception as long as you want to (unless you health changes).
Even if hormonal contraception changes the pattern of periods, fertility will come back once contraception is stopped.
Hormonal contraception won't affect future fertility, but it’s important to know that it’s less easy to get pregnant as you get older -it becomes harder to get pregnant over 35.
Taking a break from contraception can mean pregnancy by accident – a study showed that a quarter (1 in 4) of young people who took a break of 6 months had unplanned pregnancies.
Some people will be advised to come off methods which contain oestrogen if they have particular problems (high blood pressure, migraines with a warning, or heavy body weight).
Contraception is incredibly safe for the vast majority, and a break is not necessary.
Those on the combined pill, patches or the vaginal ring already have a week off every month (although all of these methods can be safely used continuously without breaks).
If you want a break from hormones but still don't want to get pregnant, there are some alternatives which don't have hormones
Which choices have no hormones?
- The most effective non-hormonal method is the copper coil
- The diaphragm is another method without hormones, and it’s fairly easy to learn how to use it
- Condoms are always an option
- Fertility Awareness works quite well if you are committed to working out how to do it reliably
- The withdrawal method suits some people, especially if an unplanned pregnancy would be okay