Combined pill

The combined pill is a daily tablet that contains two hormones, progestin and oestrogen, which are similar to hormones in your body.

The hormones prevent an egg from being released by the ovaries each month and make it harder for sperm to get into the uterus (womb).

The pill needs to be taken once a day for three weeks and then you can have a week’s break to have a monthly bleed, or you can continue to take the pill every day to avoid having a monthly bleed.

  • How good is the pill at preventing a pregnancy?
    • The pill works well at preventing pregnancy. However, its ability to stop a pregnancy largely depends on a person using it properly.
    • With typical use up to 7 out of 100 users will become pregnant
    • If you think you will not be able to take a pill at the same time each day, it may not be the right method for you.
  • What are the advantages of the pill?
    • It can make your periods regular, lighter, and less painful
    • It gives you the choice not to have a monthly bleed or control when you have a bleed
    • Your fertility will return to normal immediately after the you stop using the pill
    • It is not used during sex so will not affect spontaneity
    • It helps protect against some forms of cancer (uterus (womb), colorectal, and ovarian).
    • It reduces the risk of getting fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease
    • It may reduce acne and improve your skin.
  • What are the disadvantages of the pill?
    • The pill has to be taken once per day. Forgetting to take the pill on a daily basis could make it fail. If you do not have a routine and think you will not be able to take a pill at the same time each day, it may not be the right method for you.
    • Some people may not be suitable to have methods containing oestrogen. Please talk to your provider about whether it is safe for you to take
    • You may get temporary side effects at first including headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood changes
    • Irregular bleeding and spotting may occur in the first few months of use
    • The pill may not work if you experience vomiting or diarrhoea.
    • Use of some medications, such as those for seizures or fits, HIV or for tuberculosis, can make the pill less effective. Check with your medical provider if your medications are compatible with use of the pill.
    • Condoms are the only contraceptive method which protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend "dual protection". This means using a male or female condom in addition to the contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy.
  • How do I use the combined pill?
    • When taking your first pill, choose a convenient time to take it. This can be any time of the day.
    • Once you've chosen a time you must then take one pill each day at this same time every day
    • Users of the combined pill have the option to have a monthly bleed or to skip or shorten their monthly bleed
  • What are the possible risks of using the combined pill?
    • The combined pill is associated with some rare risks. For most people the benefits outweigh the possible risks.
    • Your provider will ask you questions to check whether you could be at higher risk (e.g. if you smoke, have high blood pressure, or are overweight etc.).
    • There are some rare risks associated with combined methods:
      • Development of a blood clot in your leg or lungs
      • Heart attack
      • Stroke