More commonly known as ‘the pill’ the contraceptive pill is a medication taken orally (by mouth) to prevent pregnancy. There are two types of ‘the pill’ – the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill.
The combined pill contains two hormones. It has traditionally been taken for 21 days with a pill free break of 7 days, however there are now new ways of taking it that might suit your life style better, this can be discussed with the doctor or nurse who provides your pills.. Not all women can take the combined pill, so the Doctor/Nurse will ask you some questions before prescribing the combined pill for you.
This is sometimes called the ‘mini pill’, the progestogen-only pill contains one hormone. Some progestogen-only pills have to be taken at the same time every day to be effective, but not all. Again, the Doctor/Nurse will ask you some questions to see if this type of pill will be effective for you.
Yes, for both COC and POP you must take it regularly, as instructed by your Doctor/Nurse to stay protected from pregnancy. If you miss a pill, you are at risk of falling pregnant.
When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing a pregnancy (this means that each year 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant if they using this method to prevent pregnancy). The effectiveness of the pill can be affected by certain medications or if you have sickness or diarrhoea. So remember to always tell your GP or other medical professionals that you are on the pill before taking any other medications.
The pill is available free of charge on prescription from your GP or sexual health clinics. It cannot be bought over the counter.