The combined contraceptive pill is a tablet that contains artificial versions of the two female hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. You need to take the pill at around the same time each day.
- Over 99% effective when you use the method correctly every time
- Over 91% effective when you don’t always use the method correctly
How does it work?
The combined pill releases the artificial form of the hormones - oestrogen and progesterone - which are absorbed into your body.
It works by:
- stopping ovulation (an egg being released from your ovaries)
- thickening the mucus at the neck of the womb (uterus) so it is difficult for sperm to enter the womb
- thinning the lining of the womb and this prevents a fertilised egg from settling (implanting) in the womb
It is important that you talk to a doctor who will assess what contraceptive option is best for you.
- It does not interrupt sex.
- Often reduces bleeding and period pain, and may help with premenstrual symptoms.
- If you miss a pill, or are vomiting or have severe diarrhoea, it can be less effective.
- It is not suitable if you smoke and are over 35 years of age.
- It is not suitable if you are obese.
- It may not be suitable if you are breastfeeding. Check with your doctor.
- Its effectiveness may be reduced by taking certain medications.
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
- There are many myths about the pill; to read about these myths visit the Myths about the Pill section of this site.