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Side effects of the pill

Woman's hands with pill packet
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The combined contraceptive pill is usually referred to as ‘the pill’ and it contains the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. When taken correctly, the pill is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy*.

The pill prevents pregnancy by stopping you from releasing an egg each month. The hormones in the pill also thicken the mucus in the neck of your uterus (womb) making it difficult for sperm to reach an egg. The womb lining is also thinned so that a fertilised egg finds it difficult to implant itself onto the wall of your womb.

What are the side effects of taking the pill?

Many women experience temporary side effects when they start taking the pill; these usually subside after a few months. However if you find that you are still experiencing side affects you may want to try a different pill. You can speak to your GP or a nurse at your local sexual health clinic about your options.

Side effects of the pill can include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Acne
  • Breast tenderness and enlargement
  • Mood swings
  • Breakthrough bleeding and spotting
  • Changes to your sex drive
  • Tiredness

Many women find that taking the pill helps to regulate their periods, relieves their pain and lighten heavy periods; however the pill can also cause you to experience spotting between your periods

What are the risks of taking the pill?

As with most hormonal contraceptives there are certain risks, however these risks are small and many women find that the advantages of the pill outweigh the risks. Be sure to discuss the risk of blood clots and cancer with your healthcare practitioner before you decide that the birth control pill is right for you. They may want to discuss your family’s medical history to determine whether it is suitable for you to take the pill.

Can being on the pill cause depression?

One of the side effects of the pill is changes to your moods, this includes depression. If you find that your mood is a lot lower than you are used to and that you are having negative thoughts then you should talk to your GP about your options. They can offer advice and perhaps discuss other contraceptive options with you.

Who can use the combined pill?

The pill is not suitable for all women, for example if you're a smoker you should not use the pill as a form of birth control. To find out whether the pill is right for you, you can talk to your GP, a nurse at your local sexual health clinic or one of our expert pharmacists in store.

Our Online Doctor service can also prescribe a range of contraceptive options that are personalised to you and your health. Simply have an online consultation with one of our registered clinicians to find a combined pill that is right for you.

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Is birth control pill safe?

Using the birth control pill is safe; however it does increase your risk of certain health complications. When you discuss your contraceptive options with your healthcare practitioner you’ll be able to voice any concerns you may have as well as find out about all the side effects associated with the pill.