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Combined Contraceptive Pill

Information on available combined contraceptive pills

The combined contraceptive pill is an extremely efficient method of contraception, and one of the most popular types of contraceptives in the UK – which is why roughly 3.5 million women in Britain are using it as their preferred method of pregnancy prevention. Also referred to simply as 'the pill', the combined contraceptive pill is an oral tablet that contains both oestrogen and progestogen and is proven to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. It's the most popular form of contraception, not only due to its success rate at preventing conception, but it also regulates periods, makes menstrual cramps less painful, minimises ovarian cysts and provides symptomatic relief from endometriosis.

At euroClinix, we offer 16 brands of the combined pill ranging from all three types; monophasic, phasic and every day (ED). If you are already taking your preferred method of contraception, simply start your consultation. We offer next day delivery free of charge without the need for a face-to-face appointment with your doctor, saving you time and effort spent booking and attending appointment in person.

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What is 'the pill'?

'The pill' is a common term for the combined contraceptive pill. It may also be used to describe the mini pill, however this is false.

'The pill' is the most common form of contraception in the UK, as well as the world. In fact, there are currently about 100 million women who use one type of combined oral contraceptive, with multiple brands available in the UK at your disposal. That works out as roughly 1 in 3 of all women of reproductive age who are using the combined pill as their method of pregnancy prevention.

Each combined contraceptive tablet contains a combination of oestrogen and progestogen with the individual names of hormones varying from each pill, and there are multiple brands available in the UK. Whilst they can be split into monophasic, phasic and every day (ED) pills, ultimately they all work in the same way - by altering the environment of your reproductive system in such a way that it's almost impossible for you to conceive.

When used correctly, all brands of the combined pill are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, as well as having a whole host of other benefits.

Benefits of the combined pill

The main benefit of 'the pill' is to prevent pregnancy. When used correctly – e.g. not missing a couple of pills and starting the new pack at the correct time – all combined pill brands are nearly 100% effective at preventing conception.

Depending on the type of combined pill, there are a number of other advantages to taking 'the pill', which may ellipse this primary aim. In fact you can be prescribed certain types of combined pill without needing to use it as a form of pregnancy prevention.

These additional advantages will depend on the brand of combined pill you are taking, and will be advised by a medical professional. For example, Dianette can be taken to help reduce bouts acne without needing to be a contraceptive. Certain brands of the pill can do all or some of the following:

  • Regulates periods to one formulated time of the month (one bleed)
  • Reduces menstrual symptoms such as cramping and aching
  • Reduces PMS symptoms such as mood swings and irritability
  • Decreases a heavy flow during your period (bleeding is lighter)
  • Improves skin and reduces outbreaks of acne or spots
  • Can be used to treat endometriosis
  • Can protect against pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Reduces the risk of certain cancers such as womb and ovarian

All combined pills can help to alleviate any symptoms associated with your period, however if you experience particularly painful or sporadic periods, there may be a certain type of combined oral contraceptive that is more suitable than others. If you would like to combat anything troublesome that is mentioned above such as acne or endometriosis, you should arrange an appointment with your doctor to discuss which brand of pill would be best for you.

It needs to be taken every day for 21 days of your cycle, with a seven-day break. During this break, women will usually experience a withdrawal bleed. The excess lining of the womb is shed, as with a normal period, and you may experience some cramps and discomfort.

Types of combined pill

There are nearly 30 different types of contraceptive pill available to women in the UK. Whilst choosing a pill may seem like a daunting task, when competing a consultation necessary when ordering the combined pill, your doctor will be able to advise the correct pill for you.

The combined pill can be split into two different types: monophasic and multiphasic, which can then be categorised further in categories such as monophasic, phasic and every day (ED).

Monophasic versions contain the same dose of hormones in each pill, and are usually the first kind of ones that women are prescribed. They allow you to regulate your period and can be taken in any order. Multiphasic versions have a varying hormone dosage. Biphasic pills contain two different strengths of hormones, triphasic ones contain three different strengths and multiphasic versions contain four or more different strengths. These pills mimic the natural fluctuation of hormones during your cycle, and administer a lower total dose of hormones to your body. These two benefits reduce the risk of experiencing side effects like spotting, however must be taken in the correct order.

Combined pill brands

The most common monophasic pills include:

  • Brevinor
  • Cilest
  • Dianette
  • Femodene
  • Femodette
  • Loestrin
  • Marvelon
  • Mercilon
  • Microgynon
  • Ovranette
  • Yasmin

The most common biphasic ones is:

  • Binovum

The most common triphasic pills:

  • Logynon
  • Trinovum

The most common multiphasic pills is:

  • Qlaira

How does the pill work?

To understand how this form of combined oral contraception will prevent pregnancy, it's important to understand the process of conception.

Once a month, your ovaries release a mature egg that travels down the fallopian tubes towards the uterus. While this happens, the lining of your womb begins to thicken as it prepares itself to host a fertilised egg. At the same time, the mucus in the cervix becomes thinner to make it easier for sperm to reach the womb.

The combined pill stops all of these activities, which in turn prevents you from conceiving. The oestrogen in the pill stops your ovaries from releasing a mature egg, whilst the progestogen stops the womb lining from thickening and actually makes the cervical mucus thicker meaning that, in the unlikely event an egg is released, it cannot attached to the wall of the womb, nor can the sperm reach it.

The pill regulates periods, makes them lighter and less painful and offers symptomatic relief from endometriosis. It is over 99% effective and you don't need to interrupt sex to use it. It can also help to improve spotty skin, reduce excessive body hair and treat polycystic ovary syndrome. If used over a long period of time, the pill can cut your risk of developing ovarian, uterine or colon cancer.

It's important to note that the combined pill, as well as any hormonal contraception, is not a method of STI protection. The best method to significantly reduce the chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection is to wear barrier contraception such as male or female condoms, which are easily available from pharmacies and shops around the UK.

How to take 'the pill'?

The combined pill is taken for 21 consecutive days of the menstrual cycle. Blister packs of the pill are clearly marked with the day of the week, meaning you can easily keep track, especially if you're taking a brand of the pill that requires you to take the tablets in the correct order.

  • Take one tablet per day for 21 days
  • Take the tablet at the same time
  • Tablets can be taken with or without food
  • Follow the marked blister packs for clarity
  • Then take a seven day break
  • During this time, you will experience a withdrawal bleed (period)
  • Start the next pack after seven days
  • Repeat the process until you don't want to be protected any longer

Many women decide to take the pill either first ting in the morning or last thing at night, as there is a higher chance of you forgetting throughout the day when you're busy.

You can order either a three-month or six-month supply of the pill either from your doctor in person, or online from euroClinix. A six-month supply of the combined pill means you only need to arrange contraceptive cover twice a year.

Starting the pill

When beginning your first combined pill, or starting a different type of combined pill from another form of hormonal contraception, starting the pill on the first scheduled day of your period will offer immediate protection against pregnancy. When beginning the pill on any other day of your cycle, you will need to use barrier contraception for seven days after before the medication is 99% effective.

Using 'the pill' as period delay

It is possible to use the combined pill to delay our period if needed by taking the following blister pack immediately after you've finished the first one. You can do this safely for three consecutive packs, however you may experience bloating during the third course.

The combined pill is the most effective version of contraception to delay your period and you may decide to do this for a number of reasons, the most popular being a holiday or sporting event.

What to do if you miss a pill?

Missing a contraceptive pill is a common occurrence. Whilst missing the odd one over time won't affect the 99% efficiency rate, missing additional tablets may cause the contraceptive to decrease in effectiveness. It's important to use barrier contraception if you have missed two or more tablets in your blister, and you may need to seek emergency contraception if you have had sex.

Missing one pill

Missing one pill in one 21-day blister pack will not affect the combined pill; you will still be 99% protected against pregnancy. Simply take the missed pill as soon as you remember.

Missed two pills in one blister pack

This will affect the success rate of your combined pill so it is best practice to avoid sex until you start a new blister pack, or use barrier contraception such as condoms. Always remember to take the last missed pill when you remember, even if it means taking two tablets in one day.

With both options, always continue to take your usual seven-day break before starting the new course of tablets.

Missed two or more pills in one blister pack

The effectiveness of any type of combined pill will have decreased and it is important to seek barrier contraception if you plan to have sex during this time until you start the new pack. In terms of what to do with the tablets, take the last missed one as soon as you remember, even if this means taking two tablets in one day. Leave the remaining tablets and take the seven-day break as normal.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Falling sick can affect the effectiveness of any combined pill type as the latest tablet a woman digests might not have been absorbed into the system correctly. This includes whether you have vomited (been sick) or experienced diarrhoea.

If this is the case, you should follow the missed pill method, so if it's just one pill, you will still be protected fully. However, if it is more than one, barrier contraceptives should be used.

Combined pill risks

If you're over 18 you may be able to buy these treatments online, if you are below 18 ears, you can visit your doctors in person. However, there are a number of medical conditions that may mean that it is unsafe for you to use the combined pill. This varies according to each different combined pill, and involves only a small number of women. If you smoke, are severely overweight, have high blood pressure, suffer or have suffered from migraines or a family history of thrombosis, you may not be able to use certain brands of this medication. In many cases women who can't use this treatment can still obtain oral contraception, usually in the form of the progestogen only pill instead or other forms of contraception such as the patch or ring.

The oestrogen in combined pills can cause a range of side effects including nausea, 'spotting' (bleeding between periods) and breast tenderness. The risk of developing blood clots is higher when using this form of contraception.

Some medications can stop the combined pill from working properly, and if you're sick this treatment could stop working too. It also relies on you remembering to take a pill every day. These factors can render it ineffective.

Combined pill and cancer

In 2010, the Royal College of General Practitioners created a significant report revealing that women who used the combined contraception pill have a 12% reduction in their chances of catching cancer. The study researchers looked at 46,000 women over a time span of 40 years and discovered that those who had taken the pill were less likely to die of stroke, cancer or heart disease. Findings also revealed that breast cancer rates are identical in women who have taken the pill and those who have not. This discovery – if it is definitely confirmed – goes a long way towards waning former fear about this treatment and breast carcinoma.

Buying the pill

You can buy the combined pill online at euroClinix in the UK. We stock 16 combined pills including Microgynon, Yasmin, Zoely, Cilest and Dianette. If you have forgotten to order your next contraceptive in time, we provide free next day delivery on orders placed before 4.30pm, this will be same day for London postcodes, meaning you can stay fully protected.

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