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Pill (the combined pill)

The combined oral contraceptive pill is sometimes just called “the pill”, or the COCP . It contains a combination of two hormones: oestrogen and progestogen.

It is over 99% effective, as long as you take it regularly.  People using the COCP  usually get a regular bleed every three weeks, but you can choose to miss a bleed by taking pill packets without a break.  Some people can’t take this pill because of health conditions.

If you have run out of pills please see further information on Run out of pills or missed pills?

How to take the Combined pill?

  • How does the combined pill work?

    The combined pill contains two hormones – estrogen and progestogen.

    These hormones work in three ways:

    • Stopping ovulation.  Ovulation is when you ovaries release an egg each month.
    • Thickening the mucus that comes from your cervix.
    • Making the lining of your womb thinner.
  • What are the advantages of the combined pill?

    The combined pill has the following advantages:

    • It usually makes your bleeds regular, lighter and less painful
    • It may help with premenstrual symptoms
    • It reduces the risk of cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon
    • It improves acne in some women
    • It may reduce menopausal symptoms
    • It may reduce the risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease

  • What are the disadvantages of the combined pill?

    The combined pill has the following disadvantages:

    • You may get some temporary side effects
    • The pill may increase your blood pressure
    • The pill doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections
    • For some people, the pill can cause some serious side effects (see risks below)

  • Are there any risks taking the combined pill?

    For most women, the benefits of the pill far outweigh the risks.  We will ask you some questions to make sure it is safe for you.  The pill can slightly increase your risk of a thrombosis (blood clot).  Research suggests there is a small increase in your risk of breast and cervical cancer.

  • What is the progesterone only or "mini" pill?

    The progestogen only pill (POP) or mini-pill is different to the combined pill.

    It only contains a single hormone – progestogen.

    It is taken every day without a break. It has different missed pill rules to the combined pill. It is often suitable for people who cannot take the combined pill for medical reasons and it is not thought to increase risk of blood clots. It is not possible to control bleeding patterns on the POP and some people may experience irregular bleeding or have no bleeding at all.

  • Where can I get the pill from?

    You can get the COCP or POP  from your GP, or from one of the Unity Sexual Health clinics.

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