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Often just called ‘the pill’, the combined pill is a type of female contraception that prevents pregnancy. It contains a combination of two hormones similar to those produced naturally by the body; progestogen and oestrogen.
The combined pill works to prevent the sperm reaching the egg and fertilising. It prevents pregnancy by interrupting this process in three ways. Read more
It doesn’t interrupt sex
There is no evidence that it causes additional weight gain
It does not protect you from STIs
It can increase your blood pressure
The combined pill is available free of charge from a range of services including contraceptive clinics, your GP and Brook. Find your nearest one using our find a service tool. Read more
The combined pill works to prevent the sperm reaching the egg and fertilising it. It prevents pregnancy by interrupting this process in three ways:
The combined pill is available free of charge from a range of services including contraceptive clinics, your GP and Brook. Find your nearest one using our find a service tool.
Contraception and sexual health services such as Brook are free and confidential, including for people under the age of 16. Health professionals work to strict guidelines and won’t tell anyone else about your visit unless they believe you’re at serious risk of immediate harm. Find out more about Brook’s confidentiality policy.
When you go to get the combined pill, an appointment will typically include:
When you first start the combined pill you will usually be given a three month supply. Follow up appointments and reviews are then usually every 6-12 months providing there are no issues. You can return to the clinic at any time if you are worried about anything.
You will not be required to have an internal or breast examination for the combined pill.
Taking the combined pill:
Although there are many different brands of pill, there are three main types:
Always follow the instructions that come with the packet, paying careful attention to which medicines and antibiotics might affect it.
If you start taking the combined pill in the first five days of your period, you will be protected against pregnancy straight away.
If you have a short menstrual cycle, where your period is normally 23 days or less, you will need to start taking the pill in the first four days to be immediately protected (because you might ovulate early).
If you start the pill at any other time in your menstrual cycle you will need to use additional contraception, such as condoms, for the first seven pill taking days.
This information does not apply to the combined pill Qlaira. If you use this pill you should contact a doctor or nurse if you are not sure how to take it or read the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you have missed one pill, or if you have started the new pack one day late:
If you have missed two or more pills or if you have started the new pack two or more days late:
Please note if you have missed a pill and need to take two, this is not the same as taking emergency contraception. If you have missed a pill and are worried talk to a nurse of doctor.
If you are given medication by a doctor or a nurse always say that you are taking the combined pill. Sometimes different medication can interact.
During your pill-free week, or when you are taking the placebo (dummy) pills you may get a bleed. This isn’t a proper period, but is called a ‘withdrawal bleed’ (which doesn’t always happen) and is caused by you not taking hormones in the pill-free week.
This can happen at any point during this pill-free week, and you should start your next pack on time whether or not you are still bleeding.
When you first start taking the combined pill, bleeding is very common, and can take up to three months to settle down, this isn’t usually anything to worry about. Bleeding can also be caused by a sexually transmitted infection. If you are worried, as your doctor or nurse for further advice.
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