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What Are the Pros and Cons of Estradiol for Birth Control?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Estradiol for birth control is never used alone because it does not work; it is always combined with drugs like progesterone. Combination pills or patches have the advantage of being very effective if properly used, and provide a relatively worry-free way to practice birth control. To their disadvantage, they may have a variety of side effects and are not recommended for women with certain health conditions. They are also not an appropriate means of preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

The greatest benefit of estradiol for birth control, when it is used with a form of progesterone, is the significant reduction in the risk of pregnancy. Perfect use of combination pills or patches, without any missed pills or failure to replace patches, has a 99% effectiveness rate. Errors in use mean that the effectiveness rate is more realistically described as between 93-98%.

As compared to the mini-pill, which only contains progesterone, the combo pill is usually considered more effective. This is principally due to the need to take mini-pills daily at 24-27 hour intervals. Estradiol provides additional protection that extends this window slightly.

An advantage of using progesterone and estradiol for birth control is that the method doesn’t require special preparation prior to intercourse. Regular use of the pill or patches means additional measures don’t need to be taken before sex to prevent pregnancy. Many women are grateful for the spontaneity this can lend to sexual encounters.

On the other hand, a disadvantage associated with hormonal methods is that they don’t protect against disease. Women who are not in monogamous relationships need to use a barrier method that prevents spreading illnesses. This means that, in addition to using the pill or patch, female or male condoms are necessary. Employing two methods raises birth control expense, though it also provides secondary protection against pregnancy.

Despite its advantages, estradiol for birth control isn’t advised for all women. Combo pills or patches are exceedingly dangerous for women who are smokers and over the age of 35, or for those with hypertension, certain forms of migraines, or diabetes. Estradiol is contraindicated if patients have a history of heart disease, strokes, or blood clotting disorders, and women with breast or reproductive cancers should not use this hormone. Additionally, medications for seizures render hormonal birth control ineffective.

There are numerous side effects of progesterone and estradiol for birth control. The degree to which these occur depend on the dosage strength and the individual patient. Some individuals experience few problems, while others have a high number of adverse reactions. Common side effects include nausea, changes to mood, swelling of the breasts, and weight gain. A number of women also experience reduced interest in sex, headaches, and water retention.

On the plus side, sometimes conditions may be improved by using estradiol for birth control. Ovarian cysts may resolve through taking combo pills, and period regularity can be established. Moreover, dual hormone medications are occasionally used to treat acne, pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, or severe premenstrual symptoms.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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