The Pill is a tablet you take once a day – there are a few different types of pill. The combined pill contains estrogen and progestin, which stop the ovaries from releasing eggs. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from getting to the egg. The so-called mini pill contains only 1 hormone, a progestin, which offers an alternative to those affected by the hormone estrogen.
You should swallow the pill at the same time every day, whether or not you have sex. Ask your healthcare provider whether the combined pill is a suitable method of contraception for you based on your medical history and, if yes, which is the best type for you.
Taking the pill is the same as taking other tablets, just pop one in your mouth and swallow. You should swallow the pill at the same time every day, whether or not you have sex. Forgetting to take your pill means it won’t be as effective as it can be and you could find yourself getting pregnant. If you miss 1 or more pills, or start a pill pack too late, have a look into the Patient Information Booklet provided to you with the pill pack. In case of doubt, ask your healthcare provider.
Different pills have different cycles, with some pill types you have to take hormone-free pills during the breaks to maintain continuous intake. Download our pill reminder so you can stay on top of your routine and stay protected.
PROS AND CONS
Highly effective when used as directed
It’s easy to use
It permits sexual spontaneity and doesn’t interrupt sex
Some pills may reduce heavy and painful periods
Some pills may have a positive effect on acne
Can be taken over a long period of time
It may cause some women to experience headaches and mood swings
It requires keeping track of the number of days taken
It may cause breast tenderness, nausea, headache, weight gain
It may cause changes in your menstruation cycle
It is not common, but some women who take the pill develop high blood pressure
It is rare, but some women will have blood clots, heart attacks and strokes
Does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
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No, there are many different types of contraceptive pills available, and each of them is slightly different. The important thing is to follow the instructions that come with your pill package exactly. It’s important to take the pills as directed because missing pills or taking them not on time make them less effective. If you have any questions about how to take the pill, ask your healthcare provider for further advice.
What does the pill contain?
Hormones used in the pill are mostly a synthetic form of the natural hormones progestin and estrogen. Some contain only a progestin, e.g. progestin-only pill, others a combination of progestin and estrogen, e.g. the so-called combined pill. The combined pill mimics a pregnancy to your body, although you are not pregnant, what prevents you from ovulation. It also thickens the mucus in the cervix, which makes it difficult for sperm to get through. The progestin only pill works by thickening the mucus at the entrance to the womb. In some women it may also prevent ovulation.
Are there any contraceptive pills that offer extra benefits?
Some contraceptive pills can improve the condition of your skin and hair; others help with symptoms such as acne, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and irregular menstrual bleeding.
How reliable is the pill?
The pill is one of the most reliable forms of contraception, giving a very high degree of protection against pregnancy when taken as directed.
I missed a pill from my packet / I've vomited / I’ve had diarrhea? What should I do?
No it is not necessary to take a 'pill break' unless you want to get pregnant. There is no effect on long-term fertility even if you take hormonal contraceptives for years.
How long will it take to get pregnant after taking the pill?
Hormonal contraception does not cause infertility. It may take a bit of time for your body to return to a state where you can become pregnant again but this is only temporary. Fertility returns to its previous level no matter how long you have taken a hormonal contraceptive method for. In a big surveillance study, about 20% of women who stopped taking the combined pill for getting pregnant, already got pregnant within four weeks after they stopped pill intake. More than 40% got pregnant within the first three months after stopping the pill.
What if I don't like the pill I'm on - can I switch?
Lots of different pills are available, and they are all slightly different. If you find the pill you are on does not suit you, there are plenty of others to choose from! However, usually it takes some months until your body is accustomed to a certain pill and too frequent changes would prevent you from finding any appropriate type. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider who will assist you.
When do I start taking the pill?
If you have not used any contraceptive with hormones in the previous month, you should start taking the pill on the first day of your period. If you start taking the pill on the first day of your menstruation you are immediately protected against pregnancy. You should pick a time of day which will be easy to remember and make sure that you take every active pill in your pill pack at around that same time every day.
Do I take the pill every day?
It depends on the type of pill. Most pills work across a 28 day cycle including the pill-free or placebo interval, which means you have one pack for each cycle.
With some you have to take a hormonal pill every day. With others you take a hormonal pill every day for 21 or 24 or even 26 days of the cycle, and then have a hormone free break of seven or four or only two days where either no pills are taken or a hormone free pill is taken.
During this break, you will still be protected and you will have a menstruation-like bleed.