Contraceptive Pill FAQs
Can the pill make me bleed between periods?
Bleeding between periods is a possible side effect of some of the contraceptive pills, especially the mini pill. Apart from discomfort and inconvenience, this is not usually a sign of something wrong and isn’t harmful to your health. However, bleeding between periods is usually a temporary side effect, and typically gets better in the first few months as your body gets used to the pill. So if it doesn’t stop after a couple of months, or is very heavy or worrying, you should see your doctor straight away to rule out any other causes. For more information, you can read our doctors’ advice on how the pill can affect your bleeding.
I didn’t get my period while taking the pill. Am I pregnant?
The pill is over 99% effective, so if you are taking it correctly then you are very unlikely to get pregnant. If you miss your period, it does not necessarily mean that you are pregnant. Some pills, especially the mini pill, can cause you to delay or skip your period, or stop having them at all. Read our doctors’ advice on how to tell if you are pregnant on the pill, and what you can do about it.
Can I switch to a different pill?
There are lots of different contraceptive pills, so if you find that the pill that you are on isn’t right for you, then there are plenty of other options to choose from. However, before switching to a different pill, you should talk with a doctor about which pill to switch to, and how to switch pills safely. For more information, read our doctors’ advice on how to switch contraceptive pills.
Does the pill cause weight gain?
While some women report they gained weight whilst taking the pill, there is no clinical evidence that pill causes weight gain. However, oestrogen can cause you to retain more water, progesterone can increase your appetite, both of which can lead to weight gain. For more information, read what our doctors have to say about weight gain and the pill.
How long will it take to get pregnant after taking the pill?
Taking the contraceptive pill has no long term impact on your fertility, so your fertility levels should return to normal shortly after stopping the pill. It is possible to get pregnant as soon as you stop taking the pill, though some women may find it takes a few months for their periods to return to normal.
How do birth control pills work?
While there are many different types of pill, they all work to prevent pregnancy in the same way. The hormones in the contraceptive pill prevent pregnancy by stopping your ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation), increasing the thickness of the fluid around the neck of the womb to prevent sperm from reaching an egg, and making the lining of the womb thinner to make it harder for any fertilised eggs to implant. Read for more information on how the pill works.
How effective is the pill?
All contraceptive pills are equally effective, and are more than 99% effective in protecting you against pregnancy. However, things like missing a pill, and vomiting or having diarrhoea shortly after taking it can make it less effective. Taking this into account, the pill is about 91% effective in practice.
What should I do if I miss a pill?
If you miss a pill, the first thing you should do is take it as soon as you remember and take your next pill as normal, even if it means taking two pills at the same time. Depending on the type of pill you are taking (combined or mini pill), or where in your cycle you missed a pill, you may not be protected from pregnancy any more and would need to use additional contraception. Read our doctors’ guide on what to do if you miss a pill.
Can I take antibiotics on the pill?
Most antibiotics don’t interact with the pill, and won’t make it less effective. However, there are a few less common antibiotics that do, so you should always tell your doctor that you are taking the pill if they prescribe you antibiotics. In addition, some antibiotics can have an indirect impact on the effectiveness of the pill, such as causing vomiting or diarrhoea. If you are taking antibiotics regularly, or are planning on taking them, then speak to your doctor first to make sure they do not interact. For more information, read our doctors’ guidance if you should take the pill and antibiotics.
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