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Combined pill

What it is

Small tablets containing two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen.

How it works

The combined pill stops ovulation, which means the woman does not release an egg for fertilisation. It also thickens the mucus around the cervix making it difficult for sperm to get into the womb and thins the womb lining.


  • Does not interrupt sex.
  • Can protect against cancer of the ovary and womb.
  • Bleeding may be lighter and period pain or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)/Pre-Menstrual Tension (PMT) is less likely.


  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • In a small number of women it can cause serious side effects such as blood clots.

How effective is it?

This pill is 99% effective if it is taken properly. This means that 1 in every 100 women who use the combined pill will get pregnant each year. It is less effective if it is not taken according to the instructions.

What makes it less effective?

  • Not taking it properly.
  • Taking it more than 24 hours late.
  • Vomiting less than 2 hours after taking it.
  • Very severe diarrhoea.
  • Some prescription and complementary medicines.

Can anyone use this method?

The combined pill is not suitable for all women. A doctor or nurse will need to know about a woman's medical history and any illnesses suffered by immediate members of her family, to find out if there are any medical reasons why it might not be suitable.

Where can you get them?

Click here for local clinics or from GPs.

For more information visit: http://www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/combined-pill