How to change the contraceptive pill

What you need to know about switching to a new pill

It’s quite common for women to change the type of pill they are taking as not all forms of the contraceptive pill are suitable for everyone. It’s normal to experience side effects at first, but if they persist after the first couple of months, it might be time to try a different pill. Changing your pill is pretty straightforward but there are a few things you’ll need to take into consideration first. 

 

The combined pill vs the mini pill

There are two main kinds of contraceptive pill. 

  • The combined pill- contains both oestrogen and progesterone hormones 
  • The mini pill- contains only progesterone 

The combined pill is usually taken for 21 days. Then you start the next pack after a 7 day break where you have your period. It releases hormones into your body to prevent ovulation so that your ovaries cannot release an egg to be fertilised. The mini pill is taken every day within a specific time frame of either 3 or 12 hours. It works in a similar way but it contains fewer hormones than the combined pill. 

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Changing from the combined pill 

If you are currently on the combined pill and are changing to either the mini pill or a different brand of the combined pill, the same rules apply. Once you reach the end of your current pack, start your new pill the next day instead of having a 7 day break between packs. If you want to stop your current pill right away, you can do this safely if you are in week 2 or 3 or your current pill pack, providing you’ve taken all your pills correctly. 

Always check the instructions provided with your new pill as they may vary depending on the brand or type of pill you are taking. 

 

Changing from the mini pill 

To swap the type of mini pill you are using, you’ll need to finish your current pack of pills before switching to a new one. Start your new pill right away, the day after finishing your previous one. If you are switching to the combined pill, you won’t be protected against pregnancy right away. This means you’ll need to use an additional barrier method of contraception for the first 7 days. If you’re starting a different type of the mini pill, your protection won’t be affected. 

Again, always read the instructions provided with your pill as the guidelines on how to change from one pill to another can vary depending on the brand. 

 

How to change to the pill from a different type of hormonal contraception

For both the contraceptive patch or the vaginal ring, follow the same guidelines for swapping from the combined pill. If you have recently had the implant taken out or your contraceptive injection has run its course, you can start taking the pill right away. 

Women who have been using an IUD or IUS can also start using the pill right away but you won’t be protected against pregnancy for the first 7 days so you will need to rely on condoms or a diaphragm during this time. 

When changing the type of pill or contraception you are using, you should discuss the reasons for it with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that they prescribe you with a suitable alternative. It might be that you are experiencing side effects or that the mini pill or implant is causing your periods to be irregular. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of options available to you so don’t suffer from your contraception if it’s not working for you. 


Dr Felix stocks all the available brands of the contraceptive pill in the UK. Talk to us today to find one that’s right for you.

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