The Pill

One has 2 hormones (oestrogen & progestogen) in it: combined contraceptive pill, the other has one hormone: progestogen only pill (mini-pill). When used consistently and correctly, the pill is a very effective method of contraception and is over 99% effective if used correctly. This means that for women using the pill less than one woman per 100 will become pregnant in a given year with perfect use.

However contraceptive protection can be reduced if you miss a pill, vomit soon after taking it or suffer a severe bout of diarrhoea. There are some drugs that can also reduce how effective the pill is. These include antibiotics and some medications used to control epilepsy, as well St John’s Wort (a herbal remedy). If you are on any of these types of treatment or your doctor recommends you start on any of these drugs then you should seek advice about what to do about your contraception.

Combined contraceptive pill:

How does it work?

  • Stops you from releasing an egg every month (ovulation)
  • Changes the lining of the womb so that it doesn’t allow a fertilised egg to implant
  • Thickens the mucus plug at the neck of the womb (cervix) making it very difficult for sperm to pass from the vagina into the womb
  • A pill must be taken every day for 21 days (around the same time of day where possible) this is followed by 7 days without pills.

Advantages of the pill

  • It doesn’t interfere with sex
  • It doesn’t harm future fertility and is easily reversible
  • It usually makes periods lighter, less painful and regular
  • It may reduce premenstrual symptoms
  • It may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer eg. ovary, womb and bowel
  • It may protect against pelvic infection

Disadvantages of the pill

  • It can cause side effects such as headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, mood changes and weight gain
  • May increase blood pressure
  • Increased risk of blood clotting (thrombosis)
  • There may be a slight increased risk of breast cancer
  • No protection against STIs

Progestogen only pill (mini-pill):

How does it work?

  • Thickens the mucus plug at the neck of the womb (cervix) making it very difficult for sperm to pass from the vagina into the womb
  • Changes the lining of the womb so that it doesn’t allow a fertilised egg to implant
  • It may stop ovulation is some cycles

Advantages of the pill

  • Can be used by most women, even those women who cannot use the combined pill
  • It doesn’t interfere with sex
  • It doesn’t harm future fertility and is easily reversible
  • Possible side effects
  • Irregular bleeding or no bleeding
  • Breast tenderness / mood swings / bloating / skin changes

 

Help Icon

I think I have an infection

Get infomation See More Icon