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Combined oral contraception - the pill

The combined contraceptive pill is a tablet that contains two female hormones, oestrogen and progestogen.

It is:

  • 99% effective when you use the method correctly every time 
  • 91% when you don’t always use the method correctly

How does it work?

Hormones stop a woman ovulating (releasing an egg each month). There are many different brands of pill with different combinations of hormones. Your GP will advise you on the correct hormone combination that suits you.

It is important that you talk to a doctor who will assess what contraceptive option is best for you.

Advantages

  • It does not interrupt sex.
  • Useful for women who can reliably take pills on a daily basis.
  • Often reduces bleeding, period pain and PMT (Pre-Menstrual Tension).
  • Can protect against cancer of the ovaries and womb lining.

Drawbacks

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Not available without a prescription.
  • There are many myths about the pill; to read about these myths visit the Myths about the Pill section of this site.
  • You should not use the combined pill if you smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day.

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