How effective is it?
Over 99 per cent effective if taken according to instructions. Less than one woman in 100 will get pregnant in a year.
How does it work?
Contains two hormones – oestrogen 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?
- Often makes periods regular, lighter and less painful.
- Reduces risks of cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon.
- Suitable for healthy non-smokers up to the age 50.
- When you stop using the combined pill your fertility will return to normal.
What are the disadvantages?
- Not suitable for very overweight women or smokers over 35 years.
- Low risk of serious side-effects such as blood clots, breast and cervical cancer.
- 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 it less effective.
- Some medicines can make it less effective.
- Breakthrough bleeding and spotting is common in the first few months.