Contraceptive Pill


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The combined oral contraceptive pill (more commonly known simply as “the pill”) has been around since the 1960s and is used by women all over the world as an effective, convenient form of birth control. It contains two hormones-oestrogen and progesterone, and works by preventing ovulation. It is usually taken daily for 21 days in a row, then an inactive or “sugar pill” is taken daily for 7 days, during which a woman will have a withdrawal bleed like a period.  However, it is possible to skip the sugar pills and take the active pills back-to-back for several months at a time, to avoid having a period.

No form of contraception is 100% effective. However, if taken perfectly, the contraceptive pill is a very effective method. Around 0.3% of women who use the pill perfectly will become pregnant each year. Around 9% of women will become pregnant if they take the pill correctly most of the time. As most women fall into this  second category, this means the pill is generally around 91% effective. It is important to remember that more than 80% of sexually active women will become pregnant within a year if they do not use any method of birth control.

In this section, we explore many aspects of the contraceptive pill- including how it works, side effects, clotting risk, circumstances when it’s not safe to use it, as well as common myths and misunderstandings about it.

5 myths & misunderstandings about the pill

5 myths & misunderstandings about the pill Does the pill make you gain weight? A lot of women ask this question. So far, research shows no major effect of the contraceptive pill on weight. A review of 49 scientific trials in 2014 did not reveal an evidence of significant weight [...]

What are the side effects of the pill?

What are the side effects of the pill? The combined contraceptive pill (commonly known as “the pill”) has been around since the 1960s and is used by women all over the world as an effective, convenient form of birth control. It contains two hormones- oestrogen and progesterone, and it works by preventing [...]

Can you get pregnant on the pill?

Can you get pregnant on the pill? The simple answer is yes. No form of contraception (birth control) is 100% effective. However, if taken perfectly, the contraceptive pill (also known as the combined contraceptive pill or simply “the pill”), is a highly effective method of contraception. More than 80% of sexually active women will [...]

The mini pill-10 common questions doctors get asked

10 questions women often ask about the mini pill what is it? Is it effective? contraindications side effects What is the mini pill and what is it used for? The mini pill (also known as the progesterone only pill or POP for short) is used as a method [...]

Do antibiotics affect the contraceptive pill?

Do antibiotics affect the contraceptive pill? For decades, if a woman was started on an antibiotic, it was standard practice for the doctor to ask if she was also taking the contraceptive pill. It was thought that antibiotics interfered with the levels of the pill in a woman’s body, and might stop it [...]

The contraceptive pill and blood clots- what are the risks?

The combined oral contraceptive pill (or “the pill” as it’s more commonly known) first became available in America in the early 1960s. It quickly became a trusted method of birth control for millions of women worldwide. It’s safe, effective (when taken correctly!), and has allowed women to plan their pregnancies, careers and lives in [...]