Contraceptive pills

The contraceptive pill is taken by women to prevent pregnancy. There are two types - the combined oral contraceptive pill and the progesterone only pill.

Combined pill

The combined oral contraceptive pill is usually just called The Pill. It contains synthetic versions of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which women produce naturally in their ovaries.

The pill is usually taken every day for 21 days followed by a 7 day break, during which you will have a bleed, like a period.

There's also a pill that has 7 inactive/placebo pills instead of a 7 day break, which some women find easier to use - you'll still have a bleed during the week of inactive/placebo pills.

The Pill is usually taken to prevent pregnancy, but it can also be used to treat conditions such as painful or heavy periods.

When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. If there are no medical reasons why you cannot take the pill and you do not smoke, you can take the pill until your menopause.

If you want a reliable form of contraception, and you know you'll remember to take it, the pill is a very popular choice.

Using condoms as well will protect against STIs too. Some women may be advised not to take the pill - your doctor or nurse can talk to you about whether it's the right choice for you.

Progesterone Only Pill

This pill contains progestogen, a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone that women produce naturally in their ovaries.

The progestogen-only pill differs from the combined contraceptive pill, which contains both female sex hormones oestrogen and progestogen.

This makes the progestogen-only pill an option for women who cannot take the combined contraceptive pill.

One pill is taken every day with no break. When taken correctly, the progestogen-only pill is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.