LARC

Contraceptive Pill


There are two types of pill, the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill

Combined pill

What is it?

The combined pill contains the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. There are many different combined pills available. Usually each pack contains 21 pills, however some packs contain 7 placebo sugar pills too (pills that don't contain hormones). These packs are usually given to new users getting used to taking a pill every day. Usually you take the pill every day for 21 days, and then stop for seven days. If you are using starter packs you will take the placebo for 7 days and during those 7 days, you have your period. After seven days, you start taking the pill again.

One pill is taken every day and works by:

  • Stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation)
  • Thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm reaching an egg
  • Thinning the lining of the uterus to stop eggs from implanting

How effective is it?

The combined pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly. This means that less than 1 out of 100 women who use the pill will become pregnant in a year.

The chance of getting pregnant rises if:

  • You don't take the pill
  • If you take the pill over 12 hours from your normal time
  • It doesn't stay in the body long enough to work, for example, when you are sick (have diarrhoea or vomiting) or you are taking medicine that affects how it works (like some antibiotics). You should always inform your doctor or dentist that you are on the combined pill when they prescribe any medication.

If remembering to take a pill at the same time every day could be a problem for you, why not think about a long acting reversible contraception such as the implant, injection, IUD or IUS?

What are the advantages of the combined pill?

  • It can make periods regular, lighter and less painful
  • When you stop using the combined pill your normal fertility (ability to have children) will return immediately
  • It can protect against cancers of the ovary, uterus and colon and some pelvic infections

What else do I need to know?

  • It does not protect you against STIs so always use a condom
  • May not be suitable for some women depending on their health issues, that's why you have your full medical history taken before it is prescribed
  • You have to remember to take the pill every day
  • You may experience temporary minor side effects such as headaches, sickness, breast tenderness and mood changes
  • If you miss a pill or have vomiting or diarrhoea and have had unprotected sex (sex without condoms) you may need emergency contraception . Please seek advice from a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Where can I get the combined pill?

Find your nearest services using our services page.

Progestogen-only pill (POP)

What is it?

The progestogen-only pill (sometimes called the mini-pill) contains the hormone progestogen. Each pack contains 28 pills.

Ideally a pill should be taken at or around the same time every day. It works by:

  • Thickening cervical mucus to prevent sperm reaching an egg
  • thinning the lining of the uterus to stop eggs from implanting

There are 2 types of progestogen-only pills available:

Cerazette is a progestogen-only pill that should be taken at the same time every day or up to 12 hours after your normal time.

The other type of progestogen-only pill can only be taken up to 3 hours after your normal time.

How effective is it?

The progestogen-only pill is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy if used correctly. This means that less than 1 out of 100 women who use the pill will become pregnant in a year.

The chance of getting pregnant rises if:

  • You don't take the pill
  • It doesn't stay in the body long enough to work, for example, when you are sick (have diarrhoea or vomiting)
  • Other medications prevent it from working properly. You should always inform your doctor or dentist that you are on the progestogen-only pill when they prescribe any medication.

If remembering to take a pill at the same time every day could be a problem for you, why not think about a long acting reversible contraception such as the implant, injection, IUD or IUS?

What are the advantages of the progestogen-only pill?

  • Can be used by women who can't use contraception that contains oestrogen
  • It is safe to breastfeed whilst taking progestogen-only pill
  • When you stop using it your normal fertility (ability to have children) will return immediately
  • Protects against ovarian cancer
  • You are at less of a risk of getting breast cancer

What else should I know?

  • It does not protect you against STIs so always use a condom
  • May not be suitable for some women, a full medical history should be taken
  • You may experience temporary minor side effects such as headaches, sickness, breast tenderness and mood changes – This tends to settle down after a couple of months or so
  • Periods may stop, be irregular, light, or more frequent

If you miss a pill or have severe vomiting or diarrhoea and have had unprotected sex (sex without condoms) you may need emergency contraception. Please seek advice from a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Where can I get the progestogen-only pill?

Find your nearest services using our services page.


Contacts

You Choose
info@uchooseonline.co.uk

NHS Direct
0845 4647

Sex - Worth Talking About
0800 28 29 30

 Lambeth Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Partnership
©2011 NHS Lambeth. Terms & Conditions