How effective is the pill?

The pill is 99% effective is taken correctly


The contraceptive pill is over 99% effective provided it’s taken correctly. It’s taken orally once a day and works by releasing hormones into the womb to stop ovulation and make it harder for sperm to reach an egg. There are two different types: the combined pill which contains synthetic versions of oestrogen and progesterone and the mini-pill, which is at a lower dose and only contains progesterone.

The pill works best when you take it at the same time every day as instructed. Different types and brands may have varying instructions and guidance, so make sure you read the enclosed leaflet for key information. Several factors can reduce the effectiveness of the pill.

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Medicines and Antibiotics

Certain medicines can interfere with the pill, reducing its ability to prevent pregnancy. These include certain antibiotics (such as Rifampicin and Rifabutin), epilepsy and HIV medicines and St John’s Wort. If you are taking any of these medications, you should use additional contraception such as condoms for your treatment duration.



Having sickness and diarrhoea can also stop the pill from working. If you are sick within two hours of taking the pill, then your body may not have had a chance to absorb it, which means you won’t be protected from pregnancy. If your illness continues, then you should use condoms, or a similar method of additional contraception until you have been free of symptoms for seven days.


Forgetting to take the pill

Forgetting to take it, or starting your pack late will, of course, reduce the effectiveness of the pill. Whether or not you are at risk of getting pregnant will depend on which type of pill you are taking and how long it’s been since you took your last one. With the combined pill you’re generally not at risk if you’ve only missed one, but the mini pill won’t provide protection if you take it late.


Is it as effective as other methods of contraception?

The pill is more effective than condoms and diaphragms, but it’s less effective than long term methods like the IUD, implant and injection. This is because so many variables can affect the pill and its reliability counts on you taking it correctly.

If you are ever unsure about your pill's effectiveness, then it’s advisable to use additional contraception and seek advice from your GP or family planning clinic.

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