Characteristic Combined Oral Contraceptives Monthly Injectables Combined Patch Combined Vaginal Ring
How it is used Pill taken orally. Intramuscular injection. Patch worn on upper outer arm, back, abdomen or buttocks. Not on breasts. Ring inserted in the vagina.
Frequency of use Daily. Monthly: Injection every 4 weeks. Weekly: Patch is changed every week for 3 weeks. No patch worn 4th week. Monthly: Ring kept in place for 3 weeks and taken out during 4th week.
Effectiveness Depends on user's ability to take a pill every day. Least dependent on the user. User must obtain
injection every 4 weeks (plus
or minus 7 days).
Requires user's attention once a week. Depends on user keeping the ring in place, not leaving it
out for more than 48 hours at a time.
Bleeding patterns Typically, irregular
bleeding for the
first few months
and then lighter
and more regular
Irregular bleeding or no monthly bleeding is more common than with COCs. Also, some have prolonged bleeding in
the first few months.
Similar to COCs, but irregular bleeding is more
common in the first few cycles than
with COCs.
Similar to COCs, but
irregular bleeding is less common than
with COCs.
Privacy No physical signs of use but others may find the pills. No physical signs of use. Patch may be seen by partner or others. Partner may be able to feel the