The Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill
This has to be prescribed from your doctor or the Contraception and Sexual Health (CaSH) service.
The combined pill contains two female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
If taken correctly, this is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. This means that less than 1 woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year.
If you take your first ever pill on the first day of your next period, it is effective straight away.
Most pills come in packs of 21 pills. You take a pill a day for 21 days and then stop for 7 days.
You should aim to take the pills at around the same time each day, however if you do forget it can be taken within the next 24 hours.
Vomiting and severe diarrhoea can make it less effective. Some medicines can make it less effective; always discuss any medicines you are taking with your doctor or nurse. If using common antibiotics – continue taking your pill as usual and use an extra method of contraception, such as condoms while taking the antibiotics and for seven days after. If you come to the end of your pill packet while still taking the antibiotics, go straight on to the next packet of pills. Do not have your usual 7-day break. You will then be protected against pregnancy.
The Pill works by:
- stopping your ovaries producing an egg every month,
- thickening the mucous in the cervix to make it impenetrable to sperm.
The combined oral contraceptive pill will give you no protection against sexually transmitted infections, we therefore recommend the use of condoms as well.
What are the advantages of the Combined pill?
- The pill is a very effective method of contraception when taken correctly.
- It often reduces period pain, bleeding and pre menstrual symptoms.
- It gives you some protection against cancer of the ovary and womb.
- It gives some protection against pelvic infections.
- It is a suitable method for healthy non-smokers up until the menopause.
- Fertility returns to normal as soon as you stop taking the pill.
What are the disadvantages of the combined pill?
- When you first start taking the pills you may experience some temporary side effects, such as, headaches, breast tenderness, weight changes. (These generally subside within the first 2-3 packs of pills, if they do not; please speak to your nurse or doctor)
- Not suitable for smokers over the age of 35
- Very low risk but serious side effects may include an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer, blood clots and cervical cancer. Discuss any concerns you might have with your doctor or nurse
If you have missed a pill visit the Family Planning Association website