How do you change from one pill to another?
It’s easy to change to a different contraceptive pill. Many women switch their main method of contraception several times. It’s a good way of finding out which method works best for you, and can be necessary depending on your personal situation or circumstances.
Both your new and old pill packets will have instructions for what to do when you are changing from one pill to another. Check these instructions first to see whether there are any precautions to take during the changeover.
Otherwise, there’s generally a difference in how your body reacts to changing between different types of pill. There are two main types:
- the combined pill
- the progestogen-only, or ‘minipill’
The combined pill contains two types of hormones (oestrogen and progestogen), whereas the ‘minipill’ contains only one (progestogen).
The combined pill packet will contain 21 or 28 pills, depending on the brand. After 21 days of taking the pill, you’ll have either a 7-day break of no pills, or 7 days of ‘placebo’ pills, which are pills that don’t contain any hormones. This is when you get your ‘withdrawal’ bleed.
The progestogen-only, or minipill packet will contain 28 pills. All of these pills contain a (lower) dose of hormones. You should take one of these pills every day, without a break.
When changing pills (combination pill to minipill), it’s best to go straight from one type to the to other, without taking a gap in between.
This also applies with ‘placebo’ pills. Switch pills when you’re taking your ‘active’ ones (with hormones), so that your hormone levels don’t have the chance to drop. You don’t need to wait for your withdrawal bleed before switching pills.