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Combined Hormonal Contraception

Types

Pill

  • Single pill taken at the same time every day for 21 days
  • If delay in taking a pill, vomiting or diarrhoea then the pill may not be effective

Patch

  • Single patch which is applied to the skin for 21 days

Ring

  • Plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina and removed after 21 days

Information

  • It is recommended to wait at least 12 months between pregnancies to reduce the risk of preterm birth, low birthweight and still birth
  • Pregnancy is possible 21 days after the birth of a baby and many unplanned pregnancies occur soon after childbirth
  • Suitable contraception is advised to be established by this point
  • Combined hormonal contraception (CHC) contains 2 hormones; oestrogen and progesterone
  • CHC cannot be started until 3-6 weeks after delivery of your baby
  • Consider alternative contraception until CHC can be commenced

Effectiveness

All types 99% effective with perfect use 91% effective with typical use

Advantages

  • May help painful and/or heavy periods
  • Can help with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
  • Can improve acne
  • Does not cause weight gain
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • Reduces the risk of developing ovarian, womb or colon cancer
  • Can be taken up to the age of 50
  • Pill & Patch do not require remembering to take a tablet daily and are not affected by diarrhoea and vomiting
  • No delay in return of fertility when stopping

Disadvantages

  • Requires remembering to take a tablet, insert ring or apply patch
  • Ring may fall out
  • Patch may be visible and cause skin irritation
  • Some drugs may affect the functioning of all types
  • Side effects in all types include irregular bleeding, headaches and breast tenderness which usually improve in 3-6 months
  • All types do not protect against STIs
  • May increase your blood pressure
  • Small increased risk of blood clots, breast and cervical cancer

May not be suitable if

  • You are over 35 and smoke
  • You are overweight
  • You or a close family member has had a blood clot in the leg/lung
  • You suffer with migraines
  • You have had a stoke
  • You have heart disease including high blood pressure
  • You have liver disease
  • You have diabetes with complications
  • You take certain medicines e.g. some epilepsy treatment

Perfect use: used correctly & consistently as advised, Typical use: Not used consistently as advised, STI: Sexually Transmitted Infection