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Home / Contraception / Combined Contraceptive Pill

Combined Contraceptive Pill

Get the combined contraceptive pill with an online prescription

The combined pill is one of the most popular types of contraceptives in the UK. It is popular due to its simplicity and effectiveness. You take it once daily and you’re fully protected.

At euroClinix, we offer a wide range of different pill options. Simply pick the brand you use, complete a consultation and receive it the next day.

Medically reviewed by
Dr. Sarah Donald MRCGP DFSRH DPD DRCOG Written by our editorial team
Last reviewed 30-11-2022

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Pack of Femodene® 63 oral tablets
Femodene 4.8
    • Single daily dose
    • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
    • Can improve PMS symptoms
More Info
Prices start from £39.99
Pack of Femodette® 63 oral tablets
Femodette 4.6
    • Contains a 'third generation' version of progestogen, making it safer for most women
    • Over 99% effective at stopping pregnancy
    • Proven to make periods lighter, less painful and more regular
More Info
Prices start from £41.99
Box of Logynon® 63 oral tablets
Logynon 4.9 (55 Reviews)
    • Effective and easy-to-use contraception
    • Can help to treat premenstrual symptoms
    • Tablets closely mimic your natural cycle
More Info
Prices start from £31.99
Pack of Marvelon® desogestrel/ethinylestradiol 63 tablets
Marvelon 4.9 (78 Reviews)
    • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
    • Convenient 21 day tablet course
    • Can help to alleviate period pain and other PMS symptoms
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Prices start from £39.99
A box containing Mercilon® desogestrel/ethinylestradiol 63 tablets
Mercilon 4.8 (63 Reviews)
    • Easy-to-use combined pill
    • Reduces premenstrual problems
    • Low-dose oestrogen pill
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Prices start from £39.99
Pack of 63 Microgynon® 30 oral tablets
Microgynon 4.9 (200 Reviews)
    • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
    • Reduces painful cramps and heavy flow
    • Easy-to-take pills
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Prices start from £34.99
Pack of Qlaira® estradiol valerate/dienogest 28 film-coated tablets
Qlaira 4.8 (35 Reviews)
    • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
    • Everyday pill, no pill breaks needed
    • Helps reduce heavy, irregular and painful periods
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Prices start from £67.99
Pack of Yasmin® 0.03mg/3mg ethinylestradiol/drospirenone 63 film-coated tablets
Yasmin 4.9 (398 Reviews)
    • Clinically proven to be 99% effective
    • Easy to take 21-day pill
    • Regulates and lightens heavy periods
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Prices start from £44.99
The package contains 63 tablets of Brevinor® 0.5mg/35μg norethisterone/ethinylestradiol
Brevinor 4.7
    • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
    • Can alleviate menstrual symptoms
    • Available in three-month and six-month supplies
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Prices start from £31.99
Pack of Zoely 2.5mg/1.5mg nomegestrol acetate/estradiol 84 film-coated oral tablets
Zoely 4.9 (67 Reviews)
    • Contains estradiol, which is a more natural oestrogen
    • Can help make periods lighter and ease PMS
    • Reduced risk of side effects because of more natural composition
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Prices start from £39.99
Pack of 63 Ovranette 150/30 micrograms levonorgestrel/ethinylestradiol tablets
Ovranette 4.6
    • 99% effective at preventing pregnancy
    • Reduces symptoms associated with PMS
    • Easy to take over for 21 days followed by a seven-day break
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The package contains 63 of Cilest®, an oral contraceptive that contains norgestimate and ethinylestradiol
Cilest 4.8 (91 Reviews)
    • Provides protection from pregnancy in a convenient daily tablet
    • Proven treatment for endometriosis and premenstrual symptoms
    • Taken for 21 consecutive days, followed by a seven day break
More Info
 

What is 'the pill'?

The combined oral contraceptive pill is a form of combined hormonal contraception and is most commonly known as ‘the pill’. When taken correctly, it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. There are many types of pills available in the UK, and therefore there is likely to be a pill suited for your lifestyle.

How does the pill work?

To understand how 'the pill' will prevent pregnancy, it's important to understand the process of conception. Conception is governed by the hormones oestrogen & progesterone.

Once a month, your ovaries release a mature egg that travels down the fallopian tubes towards the uterus (womb). This is a process called ovulation. While ovulation happens, the lining of your womb begins to thicken as it prepares 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.

Graphic illustrating female reproductive system

The combined pill stops all of these processes. It works by supplementing hormone levels with synthetic versions of oestrogen & progesterone. Doing so stabilises hormone levels in your body, meaning vital processes for conception don’t happen.

What are the different types of ‘the pill’?

Nearly 30 different types of contraceptive pills are available to women in the UK. Choosing a pill may seem like a daunting task. However, your doctor will be able to advise the correct pill for you.

The are two main types: monophasic and multiphasic. They differ in how many doses of hormones there are across the pack.

Monophasic pills

Monophasic pills contain the same dose of hormones across the pack and are what doctors typically prescribe for first-time users.

The most common monophasic pills include:

Multiphasic pills

Multiphasic pills have varying hormone doses across each pack. There are several types of multiphasic pills:

  • Biphasic pills (e.g. Binovum) contain two different doses of hormones, meaning there are two types of pills in each strip.
  • Triphasic pills (e.g. Logynon) contain three different doses, meaning there are three types of pills in each strip.
  • Quadriphasic pills (e.g. Qlaira) contain four or more different doses, meaning there are four types of pills in each strip.

Multiphasic pills mimic the natural fluctuation of hormones during your menstrual cycle and administer a lower total dose of hormones to your body. They reduce the risk of experiencing common side effects like spotting. However, you have to take the pills in the correct order for them to be effective.

What are the benefits of taking ‘the pill’?

The main benefit of 'the pill' is to prevent pregnancy. However, there are several additional benefits.

Taking a combined pill can:

  • make your periods more regular
  • reduce menstrual cramps
  • reduce PMS symptoms such as mood swings and irritability
  • make your periods lighter
  • improve skin and reduce outbreaks of acne or spots
  • can be used to treat endometriosis and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • reduce the risk of certain cancers such as womb and ovarian cancer

Consult with your doctor if you’re looking to improve a specific symptom or condition.

The pill will not prevent you from contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Use a condom for STI protection. Visit a sexual health clinic if you’re concerned you have an STI.

How do I take 'the pill'?

The most important part of taking the pill is that you take it at the same time each day. Taking a pill too late or missing one could reduce its effectiveness.

How you take it will depend on how many pills you have in each pill pack.

  • The most common type is 21-day pills. Each pack contains 21 pills. You take each pill once daily for 21 days and then you take a 7-day break for a withdrawal bleed.
  • Another type of pill is 28-day pills, also known as every day (ED) pills. Each pack contains 21 hormonal pills and 7 inactive pills that contain no hormones. You start by taking the 21 hormonal pills then take the 7 inactive pills, which is what causes a bleed.
  • Zoely is another 28-day pill. However, it contains 24 hormonal pills and 4 inactive pills.

If you take a multiphasic pill like Qlaira or Logynon, take the pills in the correct order.

When to start the pill

If you want your contraception to be effective immediately, start taking the pill between the first and fifth days of your period. You can start 'the pill' at any other time during your cycle, however, you will need to use barrier contraception for at least 7 days to stay protected.

How do I delay my period on the pill?

While combined pills are designed so that you have your period, you can use them as a form of period delay. If you take a 21-day pill, simply skip the 7-day break and immediately start your next set of pills. Similarly, if you take an everyday pill, you can skip the inactive pills and immediately start the next strip of hormonal pills.

When can I take the pill after giving birth?

When deciding what contraception to use after birth, how soon you can take it plays a big part in the decision.

If you’re not breastfeeding, you can take the combined pill 3 weeks after giving birth. However, if you are breastfeeding, you must wait at least 6 weeks after giving birth. If in doubt, consult your midwife or doctor.

If you have just had an abortion or miscarriage, you can start taking ‘the pill’ immediately, as you can ovulate as soon as 8 days after. You should start taking ‘the pill’ within 5 days of an abortion or miscarriage for it to be effective straight away. Otherwise, you will need to use a barrier contraceptive.

What do I do if I miss a pill?

Taking a pill slightly late shouldn’t affect your contraception. However, frequently missing tablets can alter the effectiveness of the pill. It's important to use additional contraception if you have missed two or more tablets in your blister pack, and you may need to seek emergency contraception if you have had sex.

Advice for missing a pill is different for each type of pill, so ensure you read the patient information leaflet thoroughly.

Use our interactive tool below on what to do if you miss one or multiple pills in one month (menstrual cycle). Simply click to begin.

Missed contraception, what should I do?

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the pack as normal.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the pack as normal.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill and take the active (21) pills as per the normal schedule.

2) Skip the pill-free break.

3) Start the new pill pack straight away.

If your pill pack contains 21 tablets, your 4th week should be a pill-free week if you have not chosen to skip it. This means you should still be fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up.

The combined pill may not be as effective. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal. You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex for the following 7 days.

If you vomited within 3-4 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 24 hours before your usual pill time. As long as you are not sick again, you should still be protected against pregnancy. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the pack as normal.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the pack as normal.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill and take the active (21) pills as per normal schedule.

2) Skip the inactive (placebo) pills / the pill-free break.

3) Start the new pill pack straight away.

If you missed an inactive pill (placebo), in the 4th week of your cycle, you will still be protected from pregnancy.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up.

The combined pill may not be as effective. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal. You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex for the following 7 days.

If you vomited within 3-4 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 24 hours before your usual pill time. As long as you are not sick again, you should still be protected against pregnancy. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

The combined pill may not be as effective. If intercourse took place in the week prior, the possibility of a pregnancy should be considered. Contact a doctor for advice and consider using an emergency contraceptive method.

You should keep these key points about taking this pill in mind:

1) The more 'white active tablets' are missed and the closer the missed tablets are to the 4 yellow placebo tablets, the higher the risk of pregnancy.

2) 7 days of uninterrupted 'active tablet'-taking are required to attain adequate protection against pregnancy. If you have trouble remembering to take your pill consistently, you should speak to your doctor for advice.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the pack as normal.

Provided you have only missed one pill and taken the pills correctly the week prior, you should still be protected against pregnancy.

You should:

1) Take the missed pill or start a new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal. You may need to take two pills in one day.

If you have missed more than 1 tablet or have not taken the pills consistently the week pior, you should use a barrier contraceptive method for the following 7 days.

If you have missed a pill in the last week of active tablets, the risk of pregnancy is higher. You should still be protected if you have taken the active pills uninterrupted the 7 days before and you take the following advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal. You may need to take two pills in one day.

If you have missed more than 1 tablet or have not taken the pills consistently the week prior, you should use a barrier contraceptive method for the following 7 days.

If you missed one of the last 4 pills of the pill pack, it should have no impact as these are hormone-free pills. You should:

1) Dispose of the missed pill and take the next scheduled pill at the correct time, ensuring you don't go longer than 4 days before you start a new pack with active pills.

2) You can also start a new pill pack straight away. This changes the first day of your cycle.

If you had sex the week before missing your pill, you may be at risk of pregnancy. Contact your doctor for advice and consider using an emergency contraceptive method. You should also follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal. You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

The combined pill may not be as effective. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal. You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

If you vomited within 3-4 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 24 hours before your usual pill time. As long as you are not sick again, you should still be protected against pregnancy. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

You should still be protected against pregnancy if you experienced a few episodes of diarrhoea in a day/for less than 24 hours. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up.

The protection against pregnancy will not be reduced if it has been less 12 hours. But, you should still take the following advice to ensure protection:

1) Take the tablet as soon as you remember.

2) Then take the next tablets at the usual time.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up.

The protection against pregnancy will be reduced. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 9 days.

The protection against pregnancy may be reduced. For multiphasic pills, the advice on missed pills will depend on where in the cycle you are, and on which pill brand you are taking. Follow the advice below:

1) Always familiarise yourself with the instructions in the patient information leaflet (PIL) that comes with your pill packs.

2) Take note of when in your cycle you missed your pill - the advice will differ based on this.

  • 2.1 At the beginning of your cycle you should take the missed pill and continue taking the pill as per the normal schedule. You should use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex the following 9 days to ensure protection against pregnancy.
  • 2.2 If the missed pill was towards the end of your cycle you may be advised to skip the pill and start a new cycle (take the 1st pill of a new pill pack).

If you forget to take an inactive/placebo pill (the last pills in the pill pack), you do not need to take them later, as they do not contain active substances. But you should throw away the white tablet(s) you forgot to take, so that you do not prolong the period of inactive tablets. Prolongation may increase the risk of pregnancy. Continue to take the next tablet at the usual time. This is only relevant if you are taking a multiphasic pill with 28 pills (not 21).

If you vomited within 3 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 24 hours after your normal pill time. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

If you are less than 12 hours late, take the missed tablet as soon as possible, even if this means taking 2 tablets on the same day. This will ensure that contraceptive protection is maintained.

If you have missed a pill in the first week of your cycle, you should:

1) Take the last missed tablet as soon as possible and then continue to take the rest of the tablets in the normal manner.

2) Use extra contraceptive protection, such as a condom, or refrain from sex, for the next 7 days.

3) If you had sex in that 1st week (without additional contraception), you could become pregnant. Contact your doctor for advice as soon as possible. They may recommend you use emergency contraception. You should still continue taking your pill as normal.

If you are late by more than 12 hours, take the last missed tablet as soon as possible and then continue to take the rest of the tablets in the normal manner. In addition, use extra contraceptive protection, such as a condom for the next 7 days.

If you have fewer than seven tablets in your blister strip after you have missed taking a dose, you should:

1) Complete the blister strip and start the next blister strip without a break.

This will give you protection from when you took the last missed tablet. You may not have a period until the end of two blister strips, but this will not harm you. You may also have some bleeding on days when you take the tablets.

If you vomited within 3 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 24 hours after your normal pill time. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancies. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have missed more than one pill, you should:

1) Take the most recently missed pill and skip any previously missed pills.

2) Take your next pills as normal (this could mean taking two pills in one day)

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

4) If you had sex in that 1st week (without additional contraception), you could become pregnant. Contact your doctor for advice as soon as possible. They may recommend you use emergency contraception. You should still continue taking your pill as normal.

If you have missed more than one pill, you should:

1) Take the most recent missed pill (skip any previously missed pills)

2) Take your next pills as normal (this could mean taking two pills in one day)

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

If you missed a pill and have less than 7 pills left of your pack, you should:

1) Take the most recent missed pill (skip any previously missed pills)

2) Take your next pills as normal (this could mean taking two pills in one day)

3) When you finish the strip of pills, start the next strip the next day without a break.

4) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

5) If you do not have a withdrawal bleed after you have finished the second strip, do a pregnancy test before starting another strip.

The desogestrel pill may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the less effective your contraception is. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can (as long as it is taken within 12 hours of your normal time).

2) Continue the pack as normal.

The desogestrel pill may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the less effective your contraception is. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and consider using an emergency contraceptive. Please note you should continue taking the pill as normal if you have used emergency contraception.

The desogestrel pill may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the less effective your contraception is. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

If you vomited within 3 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 12 hours after your normal pill time. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the mini pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

Your contraception may not be as effective. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the last missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

You will not be protected against pregnancy if you have missed more than 2 pills. Unless a pregnancy can be ruled out, you should stop taking it until it can be confirmed (e.g. from a pregnancy test). If pregnancy can be ruled out, follow the advice below:

1) Continue taking the pill where you left off (or start a new pill pack).

2) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

3) After seven days of taking the pill at a regular time, you will be protected again.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the pill as soon as you can (no later than 3 hours from your normal time)

2) Continue the pack as normal.

Your contraception may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the less effective your contraception is. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and consider using an emergency contraceptive. Please note you should continue taking the pill as normal if you have used emergency contraception.

Your contraception may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the less effective your contraception is. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 2 days.

If you vomited within 2 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 3 hours after your normal pill time. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the mini pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

Your contraception may not be as effective. You should follow the below advice:

1) The more pills you have missed, the more the effect against pregnancy is reduced.

2) Take the last missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

3) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

4) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

5) If this happened in the 1st week of the cycle (one or more of the first 7 pills), and you had sex the week before, you may be pregnant. Speak to your doctor for advice.

You are still fully protected, as long as you:

1) Take the pill as soon as you can (no later than 24 hours from your normal time).

2) Continue the pack as normal.

Your contraception may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the more the effecicacy reduced. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

You should still be protected against pregnancy as long as you:

1) Take the missed pill and take the rest of the active pills as per normal schedule (24 pills).

2) Skip the 4 inactive (placebo) pills and start the new pill pack straight away.

You will now have a different start day of your cycle.

If you missed one of the last 4 pills of the pill pack it should have no impact (as these are hormone-free pills). You should:

1) Dispose of the missed pill and take the next scheduled pill at the correct time.

2) Be aware that only a specific type of mini pill brands contain inactive pills, and these should be clearly indicated and have a different colour to the rest of the pills (containing hormones). The instructions will be different if you have missed an active pill.

You may be at risk of pregnancy. Please see your own doctor for advice and follow-up. They may suggest you use a form of emergency contraception. You can continue taking your pills as normal if you have used an emergency contraception. You should also use a barrier method (such as a condom) if you have sex over the next 7 days.

Your contraception may not be as effective. The more pills you forget to take, the more the effecicacy reduced. You should follow the below advice:

1) Take the missed pill or start the new pill pack as soon as you can.

2) Continue the rest of the pack as normal (at your normal time). You may need to take two pills in one day.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following 7 days.

If you vomited within 3-4 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill no longer than 24 hours after your normal pill time. If you are sick again or you do not take a new pill, your contraception will not be effective. If that is the case, retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you experienced severe diarrhoea within 3 hours of taking the pill, you should take a new pill as soon as you can, and after no longer than 24 hours than your normal pill time. As long as you are feeling better and do not continue having diarrhoea, you should still be protected against pregnancy.

If you had severe diarrhoea within 3-4 hours of taking your pill and you have not taken a new one (within 24 hours of the normal pill time), or continue to have diarrhoea, you may not be protected. Retake this quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

You should still be protected against pregnancy. Take your next pill as per your usual schedule.

If you have had severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, the pill may not have been fully absorbed and therefore may not be as effective. You should treat every 24 hours of severe diarrhoea as a missed pill. Retake the quiz and follow the advice for a missed pill.

On rare occasions, the contraceptive vaginal ring can break. Vaginal damage has been reported in connection with the ring breaking. If you discover that your ring has broken, follow the below advice:

1) Dispose of that ring and insert a new ring as soon as possible.

2) Use additional contraception (eg a male condom) for the next 7 days.

3) Contact your doctor if you had intercourse before you discovered that the ring was broken.

If you are being sick (vomiting) or have diarrhoea, the contraceptive ring is still effective (unlike when you are taking the pill).

If you are being sick (vomiting) or have diarrhoea, the contraceptive ring is still effective (unlike when you are taking the pill).

If your ring-free break was no longer than 7 days, you are still protected from pregnancy. You should follow the below advice:

1) Put the new ring in as soon as possible (at your normal insertion time)

2) Replace the ring as per your normal schedule (1 ring should be replaced every seven days, at the same time)

If the ring-free break was longer than 7 days, you may not be protected against pregnancy. The longer the ring-free break lasts, the higher the risk of becoming pregnant. Follow the below advice:

1) Insert a new ring as soon as you remember.

2) Use additional contraception (such as a male condom) if you have intercourse in the next 7 days.

3) If you had intercourse during the ring-free break, there is a possibility that you could be pregnant. Talk to your doctor immediately and consider using a form of emergency contraception.

If the ring has been out of the vagina for less than 3 hours, it will still protect you from pregnancy. You should follow the below advice:

1) Wash the ring in cold or lukewarm water (do not use hot water).

2) Put the ring back in as soon as possible.

3) Replace the ring as per your normal schedule (1 ring should be replaced every seven days, at the same time).

You may not be protected against pregnancy. Take a pregnancy test and consult a doctor before inserting a new ring.

If the ring has been out of the vagina for more than 3 hours, you may not be protected against pregnancy. You should:

1) Wash the ring in cold or lukewarm water (do not use hot water)

2) Reinsert the ring into the vagina as soon as you remember, and leave the ring in place without interruption for at least 7 days.

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following seven days.

4) If you are in your 1st week and you had intercourse in the previous 7 days, there is a possibility that you could be pregnant. In this case, you must contact your doctor.

You may not be protected against pregnancy. You should dispose of that ring and choose one of the following two possibilities:

1) Insert a new ring immediately.

2) This will start the next 3-week period with the ring.

3) You may not have a period, but breakthrough bleeding and spotting may occur.

OR

1) Do not insert a new ring.

2) Have a period first and insert a new ring no later than 7 days from the time the previous ring was removed or fell out.

3) You should only choose this option if you have used NuvaRing continuously for the last 7 days.

If you are being sick (vomiting) or have diarrhoea, the contraceptive patch is still effective (unlike when you are taking the pill).

If you are being sick (vomiting) or have diarrhoea, the contraceptive patch is still effective (unlike when you are taking the pill).

Follow the below advice to ensure you are still protected:

1) Try to attach it again or put on a new transdermal patch immediately (so it has been off for less than 24 hours).

2) Use a new patch if the other one is no longer sticky, has stuck together or to something or if it's fallen off before (do not attempt to use tape or wraps to stick the old one back on).

3) Your "patch change day" must remain unchanged.

The patch may not be as effective. The longer you have been without the patch, the less effective your contraception will be. You should follow the advice below:

1) Immediately start a new 4-week cycle by applying a new transdermal patch.

2) You now have a new day 1 and a new "patch change day".

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following seven days (the 1st week of the new cycle).

The patch may not be as effective. The longer you have been without the patch, the less effective your contraception will be. You should follow the advice below:

1) Immediately start a new 4-week cycle by applying a new transdermal patch.

2) You now have a new day 1 and a new "patch change day".

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following seven days (the 1st week of the new cycle).

Follow the below advice to ensure you are still protected:

1) Try to attach it again or put on a new transdermal patch immediately (so it has been off for less than 24 hours).

2) Use a new patch if the other one is no longer sticky, has stuck together or to something or if it's fallen off before (do not attempt to use tape or wraps to stick the old one back on).

3) Your "patch change day" must remain unchanged.

The patch may not be as effective. The longer you have been without the patch, the less effective your contraception will be. You should follow the advice below:

1) Immediately start a new 4-week cycle by applying a new transdermal patch.

2) You now have a new day 1 and a new "patch change day".

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following seven days (the 1st week of the new cycle).

The patch may not be as effective. The longer you have been without the patch, the less effective your contraception will be. You should follow the advice below:

1) Immediately start a new 4-week cycle by applying a new transdermal patch.

2) You now have a new day 1 and a new "patch change day".

3) Use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following seven days (the 1st week of the new cycle).

If you forget to put on the transdermal patch in your cycle's 1st week, you may have a particularly high risk of becoming pregnant. Follow the advice below:

1) You must use additional non-hormonal contraception for one week (seven days).

2) Put on the first patch of the new cycle as soon as you remember.

3) You now have a new day 1 and a new "patch change day".

If you are on the 4th week of the cycle, you should still be protected against pregnancies. If you left the patch on for too long (forgot to remove it), take it off as soon as you remember. Follow the below advice to stay protected:

1) Start the next cycle on the usual "patch change day", the day after day 28.

2) Continue replacing them weekly, on the same day at the same time.

3) There is no need for additional contraception.

You should still be protected, provided you follow the below advice:

1) Attach a new patch as soon as you remember (within 48 hours).

2) Replace the following patch on the usual "patch change day".

3) No additional contraception is necessary.

If you forget to change the patch for more than 2 days, you can become pregnant. The longer you have been without the patch, the lower the effectiveness will be. You should follow the advice below:

1) Immediately start a new 4-week cycle by applying a new patch.

2) You now have a new day 1 and a new "patch change day".

3) You must use a barrier contraceptive method if you have sex, for the following seven days (1st week of cycle).

Missing one or more pills

Taking a pill more than 24 hours late counts as a missed pill. If you miss one pill, you may not be fully protected. General advice for most pills is to take the missed pill as soon as possible and use barrier contraception for at least 7 days. If you have had unprotected sex during that period, you may need to use emergency contraception.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Falling ill can mean the pill isn’t absorbed properly, meaning your contraception may be affected. Having diarrhoea for more than 24 hours or vomiting within 3 hours of taking the pill counts as a missed pill. So, you should follow the advice for a missed pill where appropriate.

What are the side effects of ‘the pill’?

The combined pill can cause side effects, especially within the first few months of taking it.

You may experience side effects such as:

  • headaches
  • breast tenderness
  • spotting between periods
  • mood swings
  • changes in your sex drive
  • weight gain

See our diagram below for more side effects.

Neurological

Headaches are a common side effect of contraceptive pills. More serious headaches and migraines are less common.

Gastric

Stomach upsets are fairly common and can occasionally result in vomiting. Some women experience slight weight gain, but weight loss is rare.

Gynaecological

Some women who take a contraceptive pill will experience changes in their sex drive.

Breast

It is quite common to experience breast soreness or tenderness in the first few weeks or months after starting a new pill. In very rare cases, you may notice breast discharge.

Contraceptive pill side effects

Click on the relevant area of the body to find out about how it may be affected by your contraceptive pill

Most of the common side effects are mild. However, if you experience any worrying side effects, talk to your doctor. They may suggest you try a different contraceptive.

What are the risks of taking ‘the pill’?

While ‘the pill’ is safe for most women, some health factors may increase your risk of side effects and complications.

‘The pill’ may not be suitable if you:

  • smoke or drink excessively
  • have a high BMI
  • have high blood pressure
  • have frequent migraines
  • have a family history of blood clots
  • are over the age of 35

You should also be cautious when using ‘the pill’ if you take other medicines, such as:

  • medicines for epilepsy
  • medicines for HIV
  • certain antibiotics
  • certain sedatives
  • St John’s Wort (a herbal medicine)
  • certain antifungals

These medicines may reduce the effectiveness of the pill. If you’re not sure, consult your healthcare provider.

In many cases, women who can't use this treatment may be able to use another form of hormonal contraception, such as the progestogen-only pill (the mini-pill).

Combined pill and cancer

The combined pill is associated with a slightly elevated risk of some cancers. Studies have shown that ‘the pill’ can increase the risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer. The risk is slightly increased after 5 years of taking it. However, this risk reduces and eventually reverses after 10 years of finishing it.

If you currently take the pill, make sure you monitor your breasts or any other health changes.

Combined pill and blood clots

Another complication of ‘the pill’ is an increased risk of blood clots (thrombosis). It is estimated between 5 and 12 women in every 10,000 will develop a blood clot from using ‘the pill’. While the risk is low, your doctor will not prescribe you ‘the pill’ if you present two or more risk factors.

If you have any signs of a blood clot such as swelling, redness or warmth in the leg, seek immediate medical attention.

Can I buy the pill online?

If you are using a combined contraceptive pill, you can order it online at euroClinix. All you have to do is complete a quick online medical questionnaire. Then, one of our doctors will review your responses to ensure it's right for you. Once approved, your order will be dispensed and dispatched with free next-day delivery.

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