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Everything you need to know about the pill

The pill is a pretty awesome invention. It puts women in control and it doesn’t get in the way of the fun of sex. And when it’s used effectively, it’s 99% effective at keeping your body a baby-free zone. But that’s the important bit – using it properly. Make sure you’re totally covered with our guide.

How it works

The pill contains fertility hormones like the ones your body already makes naturally. The extra hormones in the pill tell your ovaries not to release an egg. So if you have sex, the sperm arrives to find it’s too late for the party. No egg, no pregnancy. There are two main types of pill: the combined contraceptive pill, which is made up of oestrogen and progestogen, and the mini-pill, which is just progestogen. The main difference is that the mini-pill isn’t as strong, but it’s good for some people who have side effects on the other pill.

Side effects

Yeah, there might be some, especially at first. Some of us get headaches, feel sick, and have mood swings or sore boobs, but give it time – it should ease off after a couple of months. If not, ask your doctor about trying another form of contraception.

But guess what? There are some pretty great side effects too. Some people find it clears up their skin. Others get lighter and shorter periods or less cramping and reduced PMS (PMS? That’s premenstrual tension: the gross mix of mood swings, irritability and soreness that sends us diving under a duvet with some chocolate every month before a period).

And, of course, the whole ‘no pregnancy’ thing is pretty awesome too!

How do I take it?

Contraceptive pills come in handy packets marked with days of the week so it’s easy to keep track. Your doctor might recommend taking a break one week each month to have your period.

You’ve got to take a pill every day. It can be tricky to get into the habit, so phone alarms are your friend. If you miss one combined contraceptive pill, it’s no big deal – just take it as soon as you realise. But if you miss two in a row, or just one if you’re using the mini-pill, then take care, because you’re not protected.

If this happens, don’t panic! Just remember to use condoms if you’re having sex over the next seven days. If you’ve already had unprotected sex in the previous week, the morning after pill might save the day – check with your doctor or chemist.


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