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Combined Oral Contraception Pill (COC)

What is the combined pill?

The combined pill contains two hormones - oestrogen and progestogen. Not everyone can use the combined pill so your doctor or nurse will need to ask you about your own and your family's medical history, any medicines you take (including herbal remedies) and whether you smoke. There are different pills to choose from.

You don't need a breast or vaginal examination before you can start the pill.

All our clinics keep a wide range of pills and you will usually leave with supplies of your chosen pill.

You can get the pill free of charge from your GP or any Sandyford clinic.

How effective is it?

Contraceptive use can either be perfect (always correct) or typical (more accurate, as it’s sometimes difficult to use contraception correctly every time).
With typical use of the combined pill, approximately 8 in 100 people become pregnant within the first year of use.

What makes it less effective?

Missing pills, vomiting or severe diarrhoea can make the pill less effective. Some medications including some herbal medicines can make your contraception less effective. Always tell your doctor, dentist or chemist if taking the combined pill.

What are the advantages?

  • Can make your periods lighter, and less painful.
  • May help with premenstrual symptoms.
  • Gives the option to avoid having your period at inconvenient times.
  • Protects against cancer of the ovary, uterus and colon.
  • Can help to improve spotty skin.
  • May reduce risk of fibroids, ovarian cysts and non-cancerous breast disease.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • Temporary side effects at first including headaches, nausea and breast tenderness.
  • You have to remember taking it every day except in your pill free week.
  • A very small number of women may develop blood clots (thrombosis), heart attack or stroke.
  • Small increased risk of breast cancer, which disappears with time after stopping the pill.
  • Breakthrough bleeding (unexpected vaginal bleeding on pill taking days) sometimes called spotting, is common in the first months of pill use.
  • The pill protects you from pregnancy but not sexually transmitted infections. Only condoms can provide protection against most infections.

 Only condoms can provide protection against most infections.

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