The contraceptive pill or oral contraception is a common form of contraception for most women. There are two main types:
The Combined pill
Description: This is the most common form of oral contraception available. It basically contains two hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – which work to prevent an egg from being released from a woman’s ovary each month. The combined pill can reduce pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and period pain. There is evidence that it also offers some protection against cancer of the uterus and ovaries.
Advantages: The combined pill does not get in the way of spontaneous sex.
Considerations: A full medical history is essential as this pill is not suitable for women who have certain conditions such as high blood pressure, circulatory disease or diabetes. Women over 35 who smoke or are very overweight may be advised to choose another method of contraception. There are several different types of pill so if one does not suit you then another might.
The combined pill is not reliable if taken over 12 hours late or if you experience vomiting or diarrhoea. If any of the above instances occur then extra protection is required. Some drugs like antibiotics can also affect its reliability. Some women experience side effects such as nausea, headaches and weight gain. It is important to note, though that the pill offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. If however, you forget to take it altogether or you have a missed period it is advisable to go for pregnancy testing.
Availability: It is only available via a prescription from your GP, family planning clinic or at a local Brook ( if under 25).
Effectiveness: 99% effective if taken correctly.
Progesterone-only pill (mini pill)
Description: Unlike the combined pill, this only contains the hormone progesterone. It works by thickening the cervical mucus, which acts as a barrier to stop sperm entering the womb. It also makes the lining of the womb thinner, to prevent it accepting a fertilised egg. This type of pill is good for women who are breast-feeding, older women, smokers and others who cannot use the combined pill. It can also help with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and painful periods.
Advantages: The mini pill does not get in the way of spontaneous sex.
Considerations: It must be taken at the same time each day or at most within three hours of that time. It will not work if taken over three hours late, or if you have vomiting or diarrhoea; in these cases extra protection is needed. It can cause irregular bleeding, missed periods and sometimes periods may stop altogether while you are taking it. The mini pill offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.
Availability: It is only available via a prescription from your GP, family planning clinic or at a local Brook (If under 25).
Effectiveness: It is 98% effective if taken correctly.