5. Combined & Mini Pills
Probably the most widely used method, and also most likely suggested to you by your doctor. The Combined Pill uses the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, while the Mini / POP(Progesterone-Only-Pill), only uses progesterone.
There are many different brands of each of these kinds of pills, and will each affect you in different ways - and, what may work for your friend, may not work for you!
You can be given 3 months / 6 months or 12 months worth of pills at a time. You will have to swallow one pill a day at a specific time of day, for as long as you wish to avoid pregnancy / regulate your period. If you miss a pill / take it late / stop taking them, you are able to become pregnant.
People can find it hard to work out which brand of the Mini or Combined pill is working and which isn’t as the side effects can last for months after you’ve stopped one brand (when you try a new brand right after the previous one, the symptoms will overlap).
Combined Oestrogren Pill - (read more):
Works by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg each month. It also thickens the mucus in the neck of the womb so it’s harder for sperm to enter. It also thins the lining of the womb so sperm is less able to grow.
You take a pill for 21 days in a row, then take a 7-day break. You get a period-like bleed during the break. It’s easiest to work out when you become protected, by starting the pill cycle on the first day of your period when you first start.
No interruption during sex. Can have lighter and less painful periods. It reduces your risk of cancer in the womb, ovaries and colon. You’re in direct and immediate control of recieving hormones - you can stop at any time if you no longer have use for them.
Usual side effects include headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings. ALSO weight gain- although note the NHS does not link the two. Can increase your blood pressure. You are not protected against STI’s. It has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots and breast cancer. Some medicines make the pill less effective. Not for women over 35 who also smoke. If you miss a pill or are late taking one, your protection against pregnancy decreases/stops!
Mini POP (Progesterone-Only-Pill) - (read more):
This pill does not include oestrogen. It works to stop pregnancy by thickening mucus in the cervix to stop sperm from reaching an egg. The desogestrel progestogen-only pill can also stop ovulation (and, despite what my pharmacist told me, will affect you differently than the POP Pill without desogestrel!).
It is different from the Combined pill in that you take the pill continuously without break.
There are two types of the POP Pill: 12hr and 3hr - the 12-hour version means you can take the pill each day within the same 12-hour window*. With the three hour version, you only have a three-hour window*. Make sure you know which one you’ve got!!
*To achieve the best level of contraception however, taking the pill at the exact same time is preferable, rather than relying on the 12-hour / 3-hour window.
Being in control of when you start and stop ingesting hormones. It doesn’t interrupt sex. Good for people who can’t use oestrogen based methods - (migraine sufferers have an increased chance of having a stroke with oestrogen methods).
You are likely to have irregular periods - for example, mine were really short and far apart - one every 2 or three months with no predictability (I started using pregnancy tests each month just for self-assurance lol). You aren’t protected against STI’s. You need to be good at remembering. Some antibiotics can lessen the effectiveness.