Your contraceptive guide to pills, patches and rings
When it comes to contraception there’s a wide variety of options to suit different needs and preferences. Our NHS registered clinicians have put together a guide to the main contraception options available through our convenient online pharmacy.
It’s recommended that you have a consultation with your GP to discuss your specific needs in more detail prior to starting any form of hormonal contraception.
Combined contraceptive pill
What’s in the combined contraceptive?
Synthetic versions of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
Advantages of the combined contraceptive pill
- Up to 99% effective
- Reduces heavy periods and pains
- Encourages regular monthly cycles
- Lessens Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Disadvantages and possible side effects of the combined contraceptive pill
- You need to remember to take it
- Mild headaches and nausea
- Vomiting and diarrhoea can decrease its effectiveness
- A very small increase in the risk of developing blood clots
- Not medically suitable for all women
Progestogen-only pill/mini pill
What’s in the progestogen-only pill?
Progestogen, no oestrogen - this is why it’s called the progestogen-only pill.
Advantages of the progestogen-only pill
- Up to 99% effective
- Suitable for women who cannot medically take the combined pill
- Can be taken if you are breastfeeding, over 40-years-old, have high blood pressure, are overweight, have severe migraines or are over 35-years-old and smoke
Disadvantages and possible side effects of the progestogen-only pill
- Has to be taken every day with no seven-day break
- Most must be taken in the same three-hour window daily
- Cerazette, Cerelle and Desogestrel have a 12 hour window to be taken
- Can experience irregular bleeding in the first months
Low dose pill
What’s in the low dose pill?
Less oestrogen than in regular combined pill.
Advantages of the low dose pill
- Better for older women who do not want the mini pill
- Better for women who experience side effects on higher doses
- Less likely to cause health issues
Disadvantages and possible side effects of the low dose pill
- Potential depression
- Weight gain
- Can increase insulin resistance
What’s in the vaginal ring?
Contains oestrogen and progesterone in a small plastic ring placed in the vagina.
Advantages of the vaginal ring
- Releases hormones over a three-week period
- No need to remember to take it every day
Disadvantages and possible side effects oft he vaginal ring
- Not medically suitable for every woman
- Can increase vaginal discharge
What’s in the patch?
Oestrogen and progesterone.
Advantages of the patch
- Small patch placed on skin
- Replaced weekly
- Regulates periods
- Reduces period pain
- Not affected by vomiting or diarrhoea
Disadvantages and possible side effects of the patch
- May irritate skin
- Possible side effects of nausea, headaches and breast soreness