The pill is a tablet containing two female-type hormones; oestrogen and progestogen. It is safe to take, and is very effective. In 2007 there were approximately 3.5 million women taking the pill in the UK. Moreover, roughly 1 in 3 of all females of reproductive age are using the pill.
Its advantages of taking the pill include stopping or controlling period pain, and having shorter and less heavy periods.
It is important to note that the pill will become less effective if you:
Therefore to protect yourself from pregnancy, it is best to abstain from sexual intercourse, or use a condom during intercourse and for seven days following your course of antibiotics or when you're experiencing diarrhoea or vomiting.
You will be given a pack containing 21 or 28 pills and you take one tablet every day at the same time. In the 21 pill packet, you will take 1 tablet each day for 3 weeks and at the end of those 3 weeks, you have a break for a week. The pill packet that has 28 tablets contains 7 sugar tablets during the last week. During this week, you will have your period. The sugar tablets act as a placebo and as a way to help you remember to take the pill each day. By having the sugar tablets or stopping the pill at the end of each pack, your period will start. After your period week, you should start on your next packet.
When starting the pill, you may get symptoms such as:
The more serious side effects include:
While these above serious side effects can be rare, they are more common if you are a smoker, very overweight, a diabetic, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Some studies have shown that by taking the pill it reduces the risk of developing cancers such as ovarian, bowel and womb cancer. While other studies have shown it increases the risk of breast, cervical and liver cancer. But after you stop using the pill, these risks soon decrease.
The mini-pill is not a low-strength version of the ordinary pill.
It's a completely different product, because it contains only 1 hormone, instead of two and is also referred to as the ‘progestogen-only pill', or POP. It ‘milder' and has less side effects, but also less effective.
Unlike like barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, oral contraceptives do not protect you from getting sexually transmitted infections. You should always use condoms during sexual intercourse to protect yourself from catching an infection.