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    Your contraceptive guide to pills, patches and rings

    On this page

      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 it?

      Synthetic versions of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

      Advantages

      • Up to 99% effective
      • Reduces heavy periods and pains
      • Encourages regular monthly cycles
      • Lessens Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

      Disadvantages and possible side effects

      • 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

      Available brands: 

      Microgynon
      Rigevidon
      Ovranette
      Yasmin

      Progestogen-only pill/mini pill

      What’s in it?

      Progestogen, no oestrogen - this is why it’s called the progestogen-only pill.

      Advantages

      • 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

      • Has to be taken every day with no seven-day break
      • Most must be taken in the same three-hour window daily
      • Cerazette and Cerelle have a 12 hour window to be taken
      • Can experience irregular bleeding in the first months

      Available brands: 

      Cerazette 
      Cerelle
      Noriday
      Norgeston

      Low dose pill

      What’s in it?

      Less oestrogen than in regular combined pill.

      Advantages

      • 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

      • Potential depression
      • Weight gain
      • Can increase insulin resistance

      Available brands:

      Gedarel 20
      Eloine
      Millinette
      Mercilon

      Vaginal ring

      What’s in it?

      Contains oestrogen and progesterone in a small plastic ring placed in the vagina.

      Advantages

      • Releases hormones over a three-week period
      • No need to remember to take it every day

      Disadvantages and possible side effects

      • Not medically suitable for every woman
      • Can increase vaginal discharge

      Available brand: 

      NuvaRing

      Patch

      What’s in it?

      Oestrogen and progesterone.

      Advantages

      • Small patch placed on skin
      • Replaced weekly
      • Regulates periods
      • Reduces period pain
      • Not affected by vomiting or diarrhoea

      Disadvantages and possible side effects

      • May irritate skin
      • Possible side effects of nausea, headaches and breast soreness

      Available brand: 
      Evra

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