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    Contraceptive Pill Brand Guide

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      Choosing a birth control pill from the range available can be difficult. Each pill has slightly different quantities of hormones. These can cause some people to experience side effects, while others will see no change. You may need to try a few types or brands to find the one that suits your body and lifestyle.

      There are two main types of contraceptive pill, the combined pill and progesterone-only pill (POP). 

      Combined pill

      Contains synthetic forms of progesterone and oestrogen. All brands of the combined pill should be taken orally at the same time every day, usually for three weeks followed by a seven-day break when your period is due. We recommend following the instructions provided by your clinician to make sure the pill works correctly. 

      Progestogen-only pill 

      Also known as the mini pill or POP, all progestogen-only pill brands are taken daily without a break. They may be used by women who are not medically suitable for combined contraception. 

      To help you make the right choice, we have compiled a brief guide to the main brands and how they differ. All of them are available through our online service, meaning that you don’t have to book a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription.

      For further advice on choosing the best contraceptive pill for you, visit our online contraception clinic. If you’re already registered with us and want to change your pill, send us a message via your Patient Record. Your GP and local sexual health clinic can also help guide you.

      Considering contraception?

      View our contraception options


      Microgynon, Rigevidon and Ovranette

      Microgynon, Rigevidon and Ovranette are combined pills. They are the most commonly used type of contraceptive pill in the UK. 

      Advantages 

      • Very effective at preventing pregnances
      • Can ease heavy or painful periods
      • Reduces premenstrual syndrome

      Disadvantages

      • Can cause nausea, headaches and breast tenderness
      • Slightly raised risk of blood clots and breast cancer
      • Not suitable for women who smoke and are over 35 or those who are overweight

      Active Ingredients

      • Ethinylestradiol
      • Levonorgestrel

      Cilique

      A combined pill. It is very similar to Microgynon, Rigevidon and Ovranette, but produces a slightly higher quantity of synthetic oestrogen. 

      Advantages

      • Very effective at preventing pregnancy
      • Can ease heavy or painful periods
      • Reduces premenstrual syndrome
      • Less chance of breakthrough bleeding than Microgynon, Rigevidon and Ovranette

      Disadvantages

      • Can cause nausea, headaches and breast tenderness
      • Slightly raised risk of blood clots and breast cancer
      • Not suitable for women prone to blood clots
      • Not suitable for women who smoke and are over 35 or those who are overweight

      Active Ingredients

      • Ethinylestradiol
      • Norgestimate

      Yasmin

      Another popular combined pill brand, it’s also often prescribed for women who suffer from painful, heavy or irregular periods. 

      Advantages

      • Good for women with no health issues
      • Regular periods
      • Helps with heavy or painful periods
      • Reduces premenstrual syndrome

      Disadvantages

      • Can cause nausea, headaches and breast tenderness
      • Slightly raised risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs than other combined pills

      Active Ingredients

      • Ethinylestradiol 
      • Drospirenone

      Cerazette

      Unlike other progesterone-only pills, which have to be taken within a 3-hour window, Cerazette can be taken during a 12-hour window. 

      Advantages

      • Good for breastfeeding women
      • Suitable for smokers, women who are overweight and those who experience severe migraines
      • 12-hour window to take
      • Safer for women with high blood pressure

      Disadvantages

      • Potential for irregular bleeding
      • Not suitable for women who have or have had breast cancer
      • Not suitable for women with liver disease

      Active Ingredients

      • Desogestrel

      Loestrin 20

      This is a low dose pill, meaning that it is a combined contraceptive pill with lower volumes of the synthetic oestrogen and progesterone. It’s used by women who experience side effects on other combined pills and by older women who do not want to use the progestogen-only pill.

      Advantages

      • 99% effective if taken correctly

      Disadvantages

      • Breakthrough bleeding in the first few months
      • Can cause nausea, headaches, breast tenderness or mood swings
      • Not suitable for women over 35, smokers or women with a history of blood clots

      Active Ingredients 

      • Ethinylestradiol 
      • Norethisterone

      Dianette 

      Dianette is used to treat skin conditions such as acne, very oily skin and excessive hair growth in women of reproductive age. However, it also functions as an effective contraceptive pill if taken correctly. If you have been prescribed Dianette for acne, you must not take any other hormonal contraceptive at the same time. 


      Microgynon or Marvelon can also help with acne and do not carry the risks associated with Dianette. 

      Advantages

      • 99% effective if taken correctly
      • Also effective against acne and excessive hair growth

      Disadvantages

      • Not suitable if pregnant or breastfeeding 
      • Not suitable for those with a history of blood clots, stroke or breast cancer
      • A range of side effects including nausea, headaches, mood swings and changes in sex drive

      Active Ingredients

      • Ethinylestradiol 
      • Cyproterone
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