There are two main types of contraceptive pills; the combined pill and the mini pill. The combined pill uses two hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, while the mini pill only uses progesterone. Both types of pill can be used to prevent pregnancy and treat other problems. We can help you find which type of pill is the most suitable for you.
Both types of contraceptive pills work by regulating your hormones, putting you more in control of your menstrual cycle.
It’s important that you take the pill at around the same time every day. You could get pregnant if you don't do this, or if you miss a pill. If you vomit or have severe diarrhoea, the pill might not work as well.
If you miss a tablet, there’s a greater chance that you can get pregnant. You might be able to carry on taking the tablets as before but it depends on how many days you’ve missed. If you’re using the pill to prevent pregnancy, you might need to use another form of contraception along with the pill.
Please see the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with the medication for more information.
Both types of pill can cause headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and bloating. They can also cause mood swings and a reduced sex drive although most side effects will get better over time.
For full information of a medicine’s side effects and how to take it, it’s important to read the Patient Information Leaflet that comes with your medicine
It’s very important to note that the contraceptive pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). The best way to avoid catching a STI is to use a condom when you have sex – vaginal, oral or anal, even if you’re taking the pill.
The contraceptive pill also doesn’t work as well when it’s combined with certain medicines, including emergency contraception. It’s important that you tell us which other medicines you’re taking – whether they’re prescription or medicines you’ve bought without a prescription. We need to know so that we can make sure the contraceptive pill is suitable for you.
If you’re pregnant, this treatment isn’t suitable for you. If you think you might be pregnant but you’re not sure, you’ll need to take a pregnancy test.
The mini pill (POP) can be taken at any stage while breastfeeding. The combined pill can only be taken by breastfeeding women from six weeks after giving birth. Please contact our clinical team who can advise you.
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Page last reviewed by: Dr. Christina Hennessey 21/06/2021