Combined Contraceptive Pill

Over 100 million women use the combined contraceptive pill as their preferred method of contraception all over the world. It is also one of the most effective forms of contraception available with 99% effectiveness when used correctly. The contraceptive pill was first introduced in the 1960’s and is a hormone-based treatment that became hugely popular as time went on. Although it has had a number of health scares, none have significant indications that the pill is dangerous and today it remains one of the safest most effective contraceptive methods.

The pill consists of two hormones that are extremely similar to those already in your body – oestrogen and progestogen. It prevents you from getting pregnant by three different mechanisms. It stops the ovaries from releasing an egg, it builds up mucous so that it is harder for the sperm to swim and penetrate the egg as well as making the uterus lining thinner so in the slim chance an egg does become fertilized, it will find it difficult to embed into the uterus wall. Combining all three of these mechanisms gives the pill its high success rate, as it makes sure there is virtually no chance of getting pregnant if it is used in the correct manner.

Usually, the pill is taken at the same time every day for 21 days. If you start the pill on the first day of your period you will be protected straight away whereas if you start on any day after your period, you will need extra protection as the pills full effectiveness will start after seven days. After you have taken the pill for this period of time, you have a seven day break in which you will experience a bleed which is similar to a period except it is usually shorter and lighter. This is one of the added benefits of the contraceptive pill as it can relieve period pain, make them lighter, shorter and help regulate your cycle.

There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to the contraceptive pill. For most women, the benefits outweigh the risks as some include effectiveness, reduced risk of some cancers, reduced chance of ovarian cysts, decreased acne and it doesn’t interfere with sex. However, the contraceptive pill does not protect you against STIs, can have some side effects such as nausea and headaches and it has been connected to an increased risk with some diseases.

You can find out whether you are suitable for the contraceptive pill by visiting either your local GP or a sexual health clinic. The NHS provides free contraceptive methods and these places are good to go to for advice on the contraceptive pill and to find out more information about it. You need to be of good health, not smoke and not have any underlying condition that could lead to dangerous conditions such as blood clots or heart attacks.

How does the Contraceptive Pill Work? »