The Combined Contraceptive Pill
This pill contains both oestrogen and progestogen.
It works in 3 ways by stopping ovulation, thickening the cervical mucus, and by making the womb lining thinner to reduce the chances of implantation.
If used correctly then it is more than 99% effective.
This pill is taken every day for 21 days followed by a 7 day break. This cycle is repeated every month. It is important to read the information leaflet contained with the medication carefully.
Side effects can include nausea, headaches and breast tenderness. Other side effects are unusual and include loss of libido, mood changes and skin changes. You should tell your doctor if you experience any lasting side effects.
You should have your blood pressure checked every 6 months, as this pill can cause it to rise. If your blood pressure becomes too high, then you will need to look at alternative contraceptive options with your doctor or nurse.
There are uncommon but serious risks from taking the pill. The risks include blood clots which can lead to a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a PE (pulmonary embolus), a stroke or a heart attack. Other risks include a slightly higher chance of breast cancer, cervical cancer and a rare form of liver cancer.
The Progestogen Only Pill
This pill is commonly used when the combined pill is not suitable. It can also be used whilst breast feeding.
This pill works by thickening the cervical mucus making it difficult for the sperm to enter the uterus. Some types of this pill including Cerazette also stop ovulation.
This pill is 99% effective if used correctly. This type of pill should be taken every day without a break. It should be taken at the same time each day. It is important to read the information leaflet contained with the medication carefully.
This pill does not increase your chances of blood clots.
This pill can cause periods to change. They may stop, become more or less frequent, or become lighter.
The side effects are usually mild and can include irregular periods, mood changes, nausea, headaches, skin changes such as acne and breast tenderness.
The risks from this pill are very small and include breast cancer and ovarian cysts.