The oral contraceptive pill has now been available for over 50 years. Here are the answers to common questions women ask.

How effective is ‘the Pill’?

The Pill is 99% effective if taken correctly at the same time every day. To remember, link it to another daily activity like brushing your teeth or set reminders on your mobile phone.

The effectiveness of the Pill may be reduced by

  • Some drugs, such as those used for ­epilepsy, certain antibiotics and some herbal remedies, such as St John’s Wort
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

In these circumstances, you may need an ­additional form of contraception e.g. condoms. Always ask your doctor for further information.

Does the Pill protect women from STIs?

No. The only form of contraception that protects you from STIs (sexually transmitted infections) is a condom.

What are some other benefits of the Pill?

For many women, the Pill may be used to help manage period problems – periods may become more regular, shorter, lighter and less painful. Women may also experience improvements in acne and pre-menstrual symptoms.

The Pill may also reduce the risk of cancer of the womb and ovary.

When can I start trying to get pregnant?

You can start straight after stopping the Pill. Most women will be ovulating (producing an egg) within 3 months but you can get ­pregnant in the first menstrual cycle.

What is the minipill?

The minipill contains progestogen only and is an alternative for women who can’t take oestrogen or combined (oestrogen + progestogen) pills. It may be suitable while breastfeeding as it does not affect breast milk supply.

Is the Pill suitable for everyone?

No, some women shouldn’t be taking the Pill. Ask your GP if the Pill is right for you.


  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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