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Oral Contraceptive Pill

Reproductive Health Service > services > Oral Contraceptive Pill

Oral contraceptive pill

A daily tablet to prevent pregnancy

We offer two different types of pill, each one providing different benefits.

Contraceptive pills contain hormones, similar to those naturally produced by a woman’s body. The pill needs to be taken at the same time every day to effectively prevent pregnancy. It’s ability to prevent pregnancy depends on a person using it correctly.

The two types of pill we have available have different advantages and disadvantages, depending on the woman. During a consultation, we can help you decide if one of these is right for you.

It can take between five to seven days for the pill to start working. You can use a condom or abstinence during this time. Your normal fertility will return immediately after you stop taking the pill.

How contraceptive pills work

All types of contraceptive pill make it harder for sperm to penetrate a woman’s womb and reach an egg.

Depending on the type of pill, they may also have an effect on the release of an egg each month.

To be effective as a contraceptive method, you must make sure to take the pill regularly, following the instructions provided for each product.

If you’re ever in doubt, or think you may be pregnant while using the pill, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.

The progestogen-only pill.

There are two types of progestogen-only or POP pill.

One type mainly works by preventing sperm entering the womb and has a 3 hour ‘missed pill’ window. The other (any pill containing desogestrel only) mainly works by preventing an egg from being released and has a 12 hour ‘missed pill’ window. Typical user failure rate is up to 9%. (Up to 9 women in 100 will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year of use.)

Progestogen-only pill advantages

  • It may be suitable for women who do not want to or cannot take oestrogen for health reasons.
  • It may be suitable for women who are over 35 and women who smoke.
  • It can be used by women who are breastfeeding.

Things to consider

  • It has to be taken every day. If you miss a pill or take it late your risk of becoming pregnant will increase.
  • Women may experience irregular bleeding or their periods may stop.
  • Some medicines may affect the POP’s effectiveness.
  • Vomiting or severe diarrhoea can make it less effective.
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Progestogen-only after care advise.

If you start the pill after an abortion, or on the first day of a period, it will work straight away. If you start on any other day, use extra precautions or abstain from sex for 2 days. Do not stop taking it. Irregular bleeding is a common side effect and periods can also stop which is nothing to worry about.

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