The pill

The oral pill provides on-going protection from pregnancy when taken daily. It comes in a pack that lasts for a month.

The pill usually needs to be taken at the same time each day for three weeks, and then you have a week’s break. Some pills have slightly different daily requirements.

You may need to take the pill for seven days before it provides contraceptive cover for you, depending on when you start your pill in your menstrual cycle.

How good is the pill at preventing a pregnancy?

  • The pill works very well at preventing a pregnancy as long as it is used properly.

  • If 100 women used a pill properly for a year and carried on with their normal sex life then only 1 of those women would fall pregnant during that period.

  • If not used properly then more women would fall pregnant.

What are other good things about the pill?

  • You can take it straight after an abortion.

  • It can make your periods lighter, and reduce period pain.

  • Your previous fertility will return immediately after you stop taking the pill.

  • It does not interrupt sex.

What else should you know?

  • The pill has to be taken at the same time each day for most of the month. Regularly forgetting to take the pill could cause it to fail.

  • The pill is not suitable for everyone. The hormones in it can be harmful for a small number of women.

  • Unlike condoms, the pill does not protect from sexually transmitted infections.

Day to day life with your pill

  • The pill may not work if you have vomiting and diarrhoea.

  • Some other medications can stop the pill from working.

Find out about other short term contraceptive methods

Compare methods

Compare different contraceptive methods, and see how well they work at preventing pregnancy.

Compare methods