The contraceptive pill or oral contraception is a common form of contraception for women. There are two main types:
What is it? This is the most common type. It contains two hormones - oestrogen and progestogen - which prevent an egg from being released from a woman's ovary each month. The combined pill can reduce pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and period pain. There is evidence that it also offers some protection against cancer of the uterus and ovaries.
Advantages: the pill does not interfere with the spontaneity of sex.
Considerations: a full medical history is essential as this pill is not suitable for women who have certain conditions such as high blood pressure, circulatory disease or diabetes. Women over 35 who smoke or are very overweight may be advised to choose another method of contraception. There are several different types of pill so if one does not suit you then another might.
The combined pill is not reliable if taken over 12 hours late or if you have vomiting and diarrhoea, when extra protection is required. Some drugs like antibiotics can also affect its reliability. Some women experience side effects such as nausea, headaches and weight gain. The pill offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases/HIV/AIDS.
Available from? By prescription only from your GP, family planning clinic or Marie Stopes International centre.
How effective? 99% if taken correctly.
Progesteron-only pill (mini pill)
What is it? Unlike the combined pill, this only contains the hormone progestogen. It works by thickening the cervical mucus, which acts as a barrier to stop sperm entering the womb. It also makes the lining of the womb thinner, to prevent it accepting a fertilised egg. This type of pill is good for women who are breast-feeding, older women, smokers and others who cannot use the combined pill. It can also help with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and painful periods.
Considerations: it must be taken at the same time each day or at most within three hours of that time. It will not work if taken over three hours late, or if you have vomiting and diarrhoea, in these cases extra protection is needed. It can cause irregular bleeding and periods may stop altogether while you are taking it. The pill offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections/HIV/AIDS.
Available from? By prescription only from your GP, family planning clinic or a Marie Stopes International centre.
How effective? 98% if taken correctly.
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