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Different Types of Contraceptive Pills

There are several different types of contraceptive pill. Most contraceptives fall into one of two categories: the combined pill, or the mini pill. Here we'll take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type, so you can make the right decision about which would be best for you. 

The Combined Pill

The combined contraceptive pill, commonly referred to as ‘the pill’, is one of the most popular types of contraception currently used in the UK. It contains a synthetic version of 2 hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) which are naturally produced in the ovaries. This prevents pregnancy by stopping the ovaries releasing an egg. It also thickens the mucus at the neck of the womb making it harder for sperm to reach an egg and thins the lining of the womb to reduce the chances of a fertilised egg implanting into the womb. The pill is taken once a day for 21 days followed by a 7 day break when no pills are required. Women are advised to have their blood pressure checked before starting, then again within the first 6 months of starting and once a year after this.

Advantages:

  • 99% effective if used correctly
  • Immediately effective if started on first day of period
  • A reversible form of contraception
  • Maintains a regular menstrual cycle
  • Reduces period pain and heavy bleeding
  • Can reduce acne
  • Side effects are uncommon, usually mild and temporary

Disadvantages:

  • Has to be taken at the same time every day
  • Takes 7 days to become effective if started after beginning of period
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • Not suitable for women over 35 who smoke or those with certain medical conditions
  • Can initially cause mood swings, headaches and nausea
  • Associated with a very low risk of increased blood pressure and blood clots
  • Linked to an increased risk of developing cervical and breast cancer which reduces once pill is stopped.

The Mini Pill

The ‘mini pill’ is a popular alternative to the combined pill for women over 35 or with certain medical conditions which prevent them from using the combined pill. It contains progesterone only, which makes it suitable for those unable to take oestrogen. Similar to the combined pill, the mini pill prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the neck of the womb making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg. It can also stop the ovaries releasing an egg although not as effectively or consistently as the combined pill. The mini pill is taken once a day every day with no 7 day break.

Advantages:

  • 99% effective if used correctly
  • Immediately effective if started on first day of period
  • A reversible form of contraception
  • Depending on the type used, there can up to a 12 hour period it can be taken during each day
  • Can be taken while breast feeding, if you are overweight, have high blood pressure or are over 35 and smoke
  • Fewer side effects than the combined pill

Disadvantages:

  • Majority have to be taken at approximately the same time every day (3 hour window)
  • Not effective until 2 days if started after beginning of period
  • Does not protect against STIs
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea can decrease effectiveness
  • Can cause irregular bleeding in the first few months
  • Uncommon side effects include headaches, nausea, slight weight gain and acne

You can order a 3 to 6 month supply online without seeing your regular doctor from DrFelix and have your contraceptive pill posted in discreet packaging to your doorstep.


View all contraceptive pills

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