There are 2 types of contraceptive pills – the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill (also called the 'mini-pill'). Both types are effective if taken properly, but they won't protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It's a good idea that both partners have an STI test before having unprotected sex (sex without a condom), even if you (or your partner) is taking contraceptive pills.
The contraceptive pill needs to be taken every day. A good way to remember is to take it at the same time every day – you could set a reminder on your phone.
The contraceptive pill works in 3 ways, it:
- temporarily prevents ovulation (an egg from being released from the ovaries every month).
- temporarily thins the lining of the womb (uterus) to prevent a fertilised egg from attaching to it.
- thickens the discharge (fluid) from the cervix to help stop sperm from reaching the womb (uterus).
Contraceptive pills are 97–99% effective in preventing pregnancy if taken every day. Sometimes you might forget to take 1 or more pills. If you are taking a combined pill and are more than 24 hours late taking a hormone pill (not a sugar pill), then you are at a risk of unplanned pregnancy. If you are taking a progesterone only pill (also known as the mini-pill) then there is a risk of unplanned pregnancy if you are 3 hours late taking your pill.
The effectiveness of the contraceptive pill is affected if you have severe vomiting or diarrhoea, or if you are on particular antibiotics.
- can make your periods regular.
- can improve acne.
- does not protect against STIs – protection like condoms must be used.
- must be taken every day.
- may have side effects, like nausea and bleeding between periods.
The pill costs around $10-$30 per month.
You need a prescription from a doctor to buy the pill from a chemist. Remember to get another prescription when you start your last packet.