This is a pill that you take every day with a break to prevent pregnancy. 

The combined pill contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen, these work to prevent the release of an egg each month (ovulation), thicken the cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to pass through into the womb, and thin the lining of the womb. 

When used correctly the combined pill is over 99% effective, however with typical use by individuals it is 91% effective.

The traditional way to take the combined pill is 21 days of continuous pill taking followed by a seven day break.

There are other tailored ways to take this that may include shorter and less frequent breaks, you can discuss this in clinic.  

You may not be suitable to take the combined pill if you are pregnant, if you are over 35 and are a smoker, very overweight, take certain medications, have had blood clots, have had stroke or arterial disease, have heart or blood pressure issues, suffer with severe migraines, have or have had breast cancer, have liver disease, have diabetes, have a family history of blood clots.    

You can start the pill at any time in your cycle.

If you start on day one to five of your cycle the pill will start working straight away, if you start after this point it will take two days for the pill to work so you will need to abstain from sex or use condoms until this point.

The Combined Oral Contraceptive pill can be used whilst breastfeeding, can be used at any age, and is useful if you cannot have oestrogen containing contraception.

In some cases, users may experience the following side effects:

  • lighter, irregular or no periods
  • acne
  • breast tenderness
  • mood changes
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • small cysts on ovaries.