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Combined Pill

Combined pill brands, side effects and how to buy without a doctor's appointment

The combined pill is the most popular form of contraception that contains both synthetic versions of oestrogen and progestrogen. More commonly referred to as just 'The Pill', all brands of combined contraceptives are around 99% effective when taken correctly. Whilst the primary aim is often to prevent pregnancy, combined pills also have additional benefits such as treating heavy periods, alleviating menstrual cramps, treating endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome and reducing acne outbreaks.

Dr Hilary Jones Dr Hilary Jones
OnlineClinic Medical Advisor

"Used by millions of women, hormonal contraception helps to effectively prevent pregnancy."

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What is the combined pill?

The combined pill is an oral tablet that is mainly used to prevent pregnancy. When taken correctly, it is over 99% effective in doing so, and is available to buy in 24 different brands in the UK (16 of which are available at OnlineClinic). The versatility of the combined pill teamed with this effectiveness makes it the most popular form of contraception in the UK to date.

Preventing pregnancy is its initial aim, and why it is used a large percentage of the time, however they can have other benefits and as the risks and side effects are so unlikely, you can be prescribed a combined contraceptive for a number of other reasons including:

  • Regulating periods if they are unpredictable
  • Alleviating menstrual cramps and pain
  • Lessening blood flow during your period
  • Control the amount of acne outbreaks and inflammation
  • To treat endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome

Many women noticed a significant difference when using contraception to their cycles – and skin or condition - that they decide to remain on the pill continually, regardless of whether they are having sex. Whilst there is an increased risk of certain conditions when taking oral contraception (detailed below), these are highly unlikely. Most women in the UK will be on some form of contraception and the majority of these will be on a version of the combined contraceptive pill.

How does the combined pill work?

Contraceptives all work by manipulating the body into thinking ovulation has happened and altering the hormonal balance of the body. Whilst each contraceptive option differs slightly, the combined pill has a threefold action to prevent pregnancy:

  • Synthetic oestrogen and progestrogen tricks the body into thinking ovulation has already happened, meaning your womb doesn't release the egg
  • The fluid in the vagina becomes thicker making it far more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg, if one is produced
  • Changes the wall lining of the womb so an egg cannot attach itself if it is released

As mentioned, the combined pill is 99% effective against pregnancy, however each method must be taken correctly. If you miss more than one pill in each blister pack, effectiveness can reduce. There may also be certain brands of the combined pill that won't be suitable for you so it is imperative that you read instruction and the patient leaflet fully before use. Each combined pill we sell at OnlineClinic has the patient leaflet attached to the bottom of the respective product page, and it is recommended to visit your doctor before starting a new contraceptive option.

How to take the combined pill

Most brands of the combined pill come in both 3-month and 6-month supplies. Often a 6-month supply is favoured by women who have been taking the same contraception for years as this avoids frequent trips to the GP for a contraceptive method you know is effective and compatible for you. These include 21 pills in each blister pack.

  • Take one pill per day at around the same time
  • Taking the pill at different times every day will reduce effectiveness
  • You can take with or without food
  • Most combined pills require you to take 21 pills (one a day over 21 days)
  • Then a seven-day break where you experience a withdrawal bleed (period)
  • Begin your new blister pack seven days later

A simple way to remember to take the pill is setting an alarm on your phone. We advise that you keep this alarm going even during the seven-day break so you don't forget to turn the alarm back on when it's time to start a new blister pack.

This level of protection does not apply to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) so if you are unsure regarding your partner's sexual health or they or you have a viral infection such as herpes or genital warts, it is advised to use barrier protection such as a condom.

What if I miss a pill?

Missing a pill, whether it's the combined pill or mini pill, can reduce the effectiveness and increase the risk of pregnancy. With the combined pill, you can take each tablet a couple of hours either side of the usual time and the effectiveness will remain. Otherwise, here is a guide on the procedure when missing a pill or more than one:

  • Missed ONE pill – take as soon as you remember and you should still be protected at 99%
  • Missed TWO OR MORE pills – take the last missed pill as soon as possible and skip the other missed pill(s). You will not be protected at the same level so it is advised to use condoms or refrain from sex until you star the new pack
  • Finish the pack a few days later if you have SIX OR LESS LEFT at the end of the 21 days and DO NOT TAKE the seven-day break. You still need barrier contraception until you start the new pack
  • Finish the pack if you have SEVEN OR MORE LEFT in the pack but DO TAKE a seven-day break. You will need barrier contraception during this time

If you have missed one or more pills and would like further clarification, you can read the patient leaflet that would have come in every pack of each combined pill. If effectiveness has diminished, you may wish to take a emergency contraceptive. This should be taken as soon as sex as possible.

Precautions and side effects

Side effects and precaution of the combined are usually manageable and many women find they disappearance after the first three months if it is a new brand. Medical professionals will always advise to continue with the pill you are on if the side effects are mild and typical until pass this point, just in case your body is adjusting to the system.

The most commonly reported side effects that 1 in 10 women experience is headaches, abdominal pain, mood swings and spotting (slight withdrawal bleed) and some rarer side effects include nausea and vomiting, weight gain (down to temporary water retention) and thrush. For the full list of side effects, it is advised to read the patient leaflet for that particular brand of combined pill.

Precaution to consider when taking a number of combined oral contraceptive include the following:

  • Whether you smoke (and how much)
  • If you are overweight or obese
  • If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • A history of deep vein thrombosis
  • If you are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • Sensitivity to oestrogen (POP pill may be more appropriate)
  • Your age (over 35 years)
  • If you suffer from migraines or headaches

Buying treatment

Combined pill are so popular for a reason; they offer near complete protection against pregnancy as well as a whole host of other benefits. You can experience more adaptable periods with less cramps and bleeding as well as a consistency and safety that barrier contraceptive options cannot offer. In addition, those women with endometriosis or premenstrual syndrome find the pill can offer a level of relief from uncomfortable symptoms.

With 16 options available at OnlineClinic, you have the choice of a number of popular brands that are completely compatible with you. Whilst most of us take a pill, we understand discretion is still important so our process from consultation to delivery to packaging is completely confidential. If you happen to have forgotten to grab your next batch in time, we offer next day delivery free of charge so you can stay protected against pregnancy.

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