Combined pill

How effective is it?

The Combined Pill is over 99% effective if taken according to instructions. Less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year.

How does it work?

The Combined Pill contains two hormones – estrogen and progestogen. It stops ovulation, thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm reaching an egg and thins the lining of the uterus to prevent a fertilised egg implanting.


What are the advantages?

The Combined Pill often reduces bleeding, period pain and premenstrual symptoms.
It protects against cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon and some pelvic infections.
It is suitable for healthy non-smokers up to the menopause.
When you stop using the combined pill your fertility will return to normal.

What are the disadvantages?

The Combined Pill is not suitable for very overweight women or smokers over 35 years old.
There is a very low risk of serious side-effects which may include blood clots, breast cancer and cervical cancer.
There can be temporary side-effects such as headaches, nausea, mood changes and breast tenderness.

Anything else I should know?

Missing pills, vomiting or severe, long-lasting diarrhoea can make the Combined Pill less effective.
Some medicines can make the Combined Pill less effective.
Breakthrough bleeding and spotting is common in the first few months of use.