What's the best contraceptive pill for me?
There are so many different brands out there that it can often be difficult to know the best contraceptive pill for you.
This guide aims to provide an overview, and to answer some initial questions. However, it should not be used as a substitute for a doctor’s consultation. You should always seek a doctor’s advice before taking the pill or changing brand (click here for our online contraceptive pill service).
All types of contraceptive pill are equally good at preventing pregnancy: they can have a 99% success rate if they are always used correctly.
The combined pill - the best contraceptive pill for most people
Unless you have any of the specific issues mentioned later on, the combined pill (commonly known as ‘the pill’) is probably the best contraceptive pill for you.
This is because it usually:
- gives you regular periods
- reduces period pain and heavy periods
- may help to relieve premenstrual symptoms
The combined pill is the most common type of contraceptive pill; according to the Office of National Statistics, it is used by around 100 million women worldwide.
The most common brands of the combined contraceptive pill are:
Although the combined pill suits most women, if any of the following apply to you you should consider another type of contraceptive pill.
Over 40, a smoker, breastfeeding or overweight? Do you experience migraines or have high blood pressure?
If any of these apply to you, you may be medically unsuitable to take oestrogen. The mini pill might be the best contraceptive pill for you as it contains only progesterone, meaning that women who cannot take oestrogen can use it.
Unlike the combined pill, the mini pill will not raise your blood pressure, but it may not control your periods in the way that the combined pill does. 40% of women who take the mini pill have irregular bleeding.
The mini pill is also taken every day; there is no 7-day break as there is with the combined pill. If you take a break you will not be protected. Another important difference to the combined pill is that, in most cases, the mini pill allows you only a 3 hour window in which to remember to take the pill. If you take the mini pill more than 3 hours after you usually take it, you will not be protected against pregnancy.
One of the exceptions to this rule are Cerazette and Cerelle, which are the most popular brands of mini pill. They offer a 12-hour window in which you can take your pill, so if you suffer from any of the above, Cerazette or Cerelle may be the best pill for you.
Do you experience side effects on the combined pill?
A low dose pill such as Loestrin 20 might be the best contraceptive pill for you. These types of contraceptive pill contain both oestrogen and progesterone, but with a lower dose of oestrogen compared to the regular combined pill. This means that oestrogen-related side effects are often reduced.
Side effects of the combined pill which can be reduced by using a low dose pill include:
- sore breasts
Are you looking for a ‘skin-friendly’ pill?
Generally, combined contraceptive pills are ‘skin-friendly’. Yasmin is a popular brand of the combined contraceptive pill, sometimes thought of as being particularly ‘skin-friendly’. However, there is evidence to suggest that it carries a higher risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs than older generation combined contraceptive pill brands such as Microgynon, Rigevidon, Logynon and Ovranette.
Do you have trouble remembering to take the pill?
Many women find that remembering to take the pill around the same time each day can be difficult. Failing to do so can cause ‘spotting’ and reduce your protection against pregnancy.
You may want to consider long-acting methods of contraception, such as implants, the coil and injections. If you are interested in these methods you should see your GP or family planning clinic.
You may also wish to consider a contraceptive patch or a vaginal ring. These are both hormone based, like contraceptive pills, and work in similar ways to pills.
The patch is a combined contraceptive which is placed on your skin and replaced once a week. You change the patch every week for 3 weeks, then have a week off without a patch. It delivers the hormones into your body via your skin.
The vaginal ring (also a combined contraceptive) is a small plastic ring placed inside the vagina for 3 weeks. You leave it in for 21 days, then remove it and have a 7-day ring-free break. You will remain protected against pregnancy during the ring-free break. You then put a new ring in for another 21 days. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of putting it in and taking it out yourself, this might not be the best contraceptive for you.
So, where can I get the contraceptive pill?
All the types of contraceptive pill mentioned, as well as the patch and vaginal ring, are available through our convenient online service.
Alternatively, you can book an appointment with your GP or family planning clinic to get a prescription.