Oral contraceptive pill

A daily tablet to prevent pregnancy

Contraception pill (1)

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A short-acting method of contraception.

We offer two different types of pill, each one providing different benefits.

Contraceptive pills contain hormones, similar to those naturally produced by a woman’s body. The pill needs to be taken at the same time every day to effectively prevent pregnancy. It’s ability to prevent pregnancy depends on a person using it correctly.

The two types of pill we have available have different advantages and disadvantages, depending on the woman. During a consultation, we can help you decide if one of these is right for you.

It can take between five to seven days for the pill to start working. You can use a condom or abstinence during this time. Your normal fertility will return immediately after you stop taking the pill.


99% when used correctly. This means that if one hundred women used the pill for a year, and never forgot to take a pill on time, then only one of those women would fall pregnant during that period.  Some women forget to take the pill every day, which can increase the risk of unplanned pregnancy.


You can get oral contraceptive pills at all our centres.


Please contact our team for more information about pricing.

How contraceptive pills work

All types of contraceptive pill make it harder for sperm to penetrate a woman’s womb and reach an egg.

Depending on the type of pill, they may also have an effect on the release of an egg each month.

To be effective as a contraceptive method, you must make sure to take the pill regularly, following the instructions provided for each product.

If you’re ever in doubt, or think you may be pregnant while using the pill, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.

“Contraceptive pills are a quick, easy way to prevent unplanned pregnancies. They are extremely effective for women who are able to remember to take them at the same time each day.”

Marie Stopes Zimbabwe

The progestogen-only pill

There are two types of progestogen-only or POP pill.

One type mainly works by preventing sperm entering the womb and has a 3 hour ‘missed pill’ window. The other (any pill containing desogestrel only) mainly works by preventing an egg from being released and has a 12 hour ‘missed pill’ window. Typical user failure rate is up to 9%. (Up to 9 women in 100 will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year of use.)

Progestogen-only pill advantages

  • It may be suitable for women who do not want to or cannot take oestrogen for health reasons.
  • It may be suitable for women who are over 35 and women who smoke.
  • It can be used by women who are breastfeeding.

Things to consider

  • It has to be taken every day. If you miss a pill or take it late your risk of becoming pregnant will increase.
  • Women may experience irregular bleeding or their periods may stop.
  • Some medicines may affect the POP’s effectiveness.
  • Vomiting or severe diarrhoea can make it less effective.
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Progestogen-only after care advise

If you start the pill after an abortion, or on the first day of a period, it will work straight away. If you start on any other day, use extra precautions or abstain from sex for 2 days. Do not stop taking it. Irregular bleeding is a common side effect and periods can also stop which is nothing to worry about.

The combined pill

The combined pill works by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month (ovulation). It thickens cervical mucus so that it is harder for a sperm to reach the womb and thins the lining of the womb.

Combined pills advantages

  • The combined pill can sometimes be used to treat period pain, heavy periods, premenstrual syndrome, acne and endometriosis.

Things to consider when taking the combined pill.

  • The combined pill is not suitable for women with high blood pressure.
  • It is not suitable for women over 35 who smoke.
  • It may not be suitable for women who have migraines.
  • Missing pills, taking some other medications, vomiting, or severe diarrhoea can make it less effective.
  • Side effects include mood swings, breast tenderness and headaches.
  • There is a small risk of blood clots.
  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Aftercare Advice

  • If you start the combined pill on the first day of a period or after an abortion, it will work straight away. If started on any other day of the cycle, extra precautions such as condoms or abstaining from sex should be used for seven days.
  • Take it for 21 days at about the same time each day, and then have a 7 day break. During the break you should have bleed but it is usually lighter, shorter and less painful than a usual period. On the 8th day, start the next pack (the starting day of the week for each pack should always be the same if you are taking it correctly). It is common to spot bleed during the first pack of pills. Do not worry, it will still be effective

Find your best fit

If you’re unsure what method is best for you, take our online contraception quiz.