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The Combined Pill

How it works

  • Contains two hormones called oestrogen and progesterone (stops the body releasing an egg and making other changes needed for pregnancy)

  • Taken everyday for 21 days followed by a 7 day break

 

Advantages

  • Easy to use

  • If used correctly it can be over 99% effective i.e. less than 1 in 100 women using the contraceptive patch (Note: with typical use its about 91% effective i.e. 9 in 100 get pregnant in a year)

  • Can make periods lighter and less painful 

  • Reduces the risk of ovarian, uterine and bowel cancer

 

Disadvantages

  • Can temporarily cause skin irritation, headaches, breast tenderness and mood changes 

  • Not suitable for smokers over the age of 35 or people who are very overweight

  • Not suitable for people who get migraines with aura (a symptom or feeling that precedes the migraine)

  • A low risk of some more serious side effects such as blood clots, breast and cervical cancer

  • Missed pills, vomiting or diarrhoea can make it less effective

The Progesterone-only Pill

How it works

  • Contains the hormone progesterone (stops the body releasing an egg and making other changes needed for pregnancy)

  • Taken everyday with no breaks

 

Advantages

  • Easy to use

  • If used correctly it can be over 99% effective i.e. less than 1 in 100 women using the contraceptive patch (Note: with typical use its about 91% effective i.e. 9 in 100 get pregnant in a year)

  • Can help with painful periods

  • Can be used if you can't take oestrogen 
     

Disadvantages

  • Periods may be longer, more frequent, irregular or stop altogether 

  • Must be taken the same time each day and not effective if taken more than 3 hours late 

  • May have temporary side effects such as acne, breast tenderness and mood changes 

  • Missed pills, vomiting or diarrhoea can make it less effective