What is the contraceptive pill?
The contraceptive pill contains artificial versions of oestrogen and progesterone, which are hormones that are naturally produced in a woman's ovaries. It works by preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulating); this means that your eggs cannot be fertilised by sperm.
It also works to thin the lining of the womb, meaning there is less chance of a fertilised egg implanted in the womb having the ability to grow. Furthermore, it thickens the mucus in the neck of the womb; this makes it harder for sperm to penetrate the womb and fertilise any egg that may have already been released.
It does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you will still need to use a condom for this form of protection.
How effective is the oral contraceptive pill?
To prevent pregnancy, the pill is over 99% effective when taken correctly.
Is the oral contraceptive pill safe?
The oral contraceptive pill is safe for most women. If you are over the age of 35 and smoke, you should not use any form of birth control that contains oestrogen. Progestin-only pills (the mini pill) are safer for smokers.
If you have any of the following conditions, you should not use combination pills:
Like all contraception, the pill comes with the risk of certain side effects, although not everyone who takes it will experience them.
If you are concerned about side effects, you should discuss them with your doctor; be sure to read the patient information leaflet thoroughly before you start taking it.
Women have reported experiencing some side effects after starting birth control pills. Usually, any side effects resulting from starting the pill are temporary as your body adjusts to the hormones.
If you do suffer from any side effects, they should go away within a few months. Visit your GP for a review if your symptoms worry you or don’t go away. It may be that a different brand of pill will agree more with your body.
Side effects of the pill include:
- Mood swings
- Sore or tender breasts
- A change to your sex drive
Informing your GP
Make sure the doctor is aware if you are currently breastfeeding. Birth control pills can also interfere or become ineffective when taken alongside some medicines, such as St John’s wort or antibiotics. You may even have to use additional forms of contraception while taking a course of antibiotics. If you are unsure as to whether a new medication will affect your pill, speak to a doctor or a pharmacist. This will help them to recommend the safest form of contraception for you.
What treatments are available?
Our UK online pharmacy has a range of contraceptive pills available for you to order. If you place your order by 2pm, free next day delivery is also available.
The combined pill, to be administered as one tablet taken at the same time each day for 21 days. A seven-day gap should be taken between pack cycles. It can be ordered in packets of three to six months.
A progestogen-only pill, this should be taken as one pill per day at the same time. No break is needed in this form of contraceptive pill. The packs of pills are taken back to back. This can be ordered in three to six-month courses.
A combined contraceptive pill which should be taken as one tablet per day at the same time. After a 21-day pack is finished, take a seven-day break before starting the next month. You can order Cilest in three-month courses.
This brand is a combined pill. Take one tablet per day for 21 days. At the end of a pack wait seven days before beginning the next course. You can buy this birth control pill in courses of three months at a time.
If you would like to buy the contraceptive pill online, fill out a Medicine Direct health questionnaire here. This will be passed to one of our doctors, who will assess your symptoms and prescribe the right course of treatment for you.
What are the advantages of the combined oral contraceptive?
The combined contraceptive pill comes with several advantages:
- It can reduce acne in some cases
- It does not interrupt your sex life
- It reduces premenstrual syndrome symptoms
- It can protect you against pelvic inflammatory disease
- It may reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease
- It reduces your risk of ovarian, womb and colon cancer
- It often makes your periods regular, lighter and less painful
The combined pill contains a ‘combination’ of the natural female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. This pill stops pregnancy in two ways.
Firstly, it thickens the mucus in the womb which makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg. Secondly, it works to make the lining of the womb thinner so that a fertilised egg cannot settle and grow.
Progestogen-only pills contain just the one hormone, progestogen. By increasing the levels of this hormone, your body reacts by thickening the mucus in your womb. In doing so, sperm is blocked from being able to reach the egg further up.
What are the disadvantages of the combined oral contraceptive?
Disadvantages of the combined oral contraceptive are that:
- It does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections
- It can increase your blood pressure
- It has been linked to increasing the risk of certain serious health problems, including blood clots and breast cancer
- Initially, it can cause temporary side effects including nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings
It is common for women to have breakthrough bleeding and spotting during the first few months of using it
What are the advantages of the progesterone-only contraceptive?
The advantages of this form of contraceptive are:
- It can be used while breastfeeding
- It does not interrupt your sex life
- It is safe for women of all ages, even those who are over 35 and smoke
If you cannot take the hormone oestrogen (which is in the combined pill, contraceptive patch and vaginal ring) progesterone-only contraceptives are useful
What are the disadvantages of the progesterone-only contraceptive?
Disadvantages of the progesterone-only contraceptive are:
- Some medicines can make it less effective, including antibiotics
- It does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections
- You must take it at around the same time every day
You may not have regular periods when you take it; they may be lighter, more frequent or stop altogether. You may get spotting between periods.
Which pill is right for me?
Am I protected straight away?
If you start the combined pill on the first day of your menstrual cycle, you will be protected straight away from getting pregnant and will not need to use any other form of contraception at the same time. If you start on the fifth day of your period or before, you will also be protected from pregnancy straight away.
You will not be protected from getting pregnant straight away if you start using the pill after the fifth day of your menstrual cycle. If you start using it any time after the fifth day of your menstrual cycle, you will need to use additional contraception until you have taken the pill for one week.
Make sure you have not risked getting pregnant since your last period. Take a pregnancy test three weeks after the last time you had unprotected sex if you are worried that you might be pregnant when you start the pill. If you have just had a baby, you can start to use the pill 21 days after you have given birth. In this case you will also be protected against pregnancy straight away.If you have had a miscarriage or an abortion, you can use the contraceptive pill five days later. Certain specific conditions may vary between the combined contraceptive and the progesterone-only pill, so make sure you read the patient information leaflet before you take your first pill or have unprotected sex.
Do I still need to use a condom?
I forgot to take my pill – what should I do?
Medicine Direct have an experienced clinical team of doctors, pharmacists and dispensers, all of whom are based in the UK. All are fully trained and qualified to provide appropriate and considered care across all areas of treatment we have available at our online pharmacy.
This means that no matter which member of our team is assigned to your case, you can rest assured that you are in the hands of a highly skilled medical professional, who possesses the compassion and clinical expertise to properly advise you on the best course of treatment.
We are fully regulated
All of our doctors and pharmacists are fully registered with both the General Medical Council (GMC), MHRA and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). Each member of our team has also worked in various clinic settings in the past, such as community pharmacies and NHS hospitals.