Combined Pill FAQs

What is the combined pill?

The combined pill is a birth control method used by women to avoid unwanted pregnancy. It contains synthetic versions of female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. The dosage of the hormones allows control over the release of the egg or ovulation. It may also thin the endometrial layer within the uterus, thus not allowing the fertilized egg to attach itself within the womb.

Is it a problem if I miss a pill?

A pill is considered to be missed if you have not had it for 24 hours. If you miss a pill you should have it along with the present day’s pill even if it means that you swallow two pills together. If you miss more than one pill, you should have the last missed pill along with the present day’s pill. Ignore the remaining missed pills and continue using the rest of the pills as per the pack dosage.

What should I do if I forgot to have more than one pill?

Generally speaking, missing a single pill will not substantially increase the risk of your becoming pregnant. However, if you have missed more than two pills, or have started the next pack more than two days late, you may ovulate. As long as there has been no sexual intercourse during this period you are safe. Without the cover of the contraceptive pill, ovulation may have occurred so you may like to use another contraception method, like a condom or spermicide, if you are sexually active.

Does it matter if I get sick when I am on the pill?

The pill takes time to be absorbed by the body. If you have vomited within a couple of hours of taking the pill, or have severe diarrhea, there may be a potential problem. You may like to treat each day that you are ill with diarrhea as a missed pill and step up the dose accordingly. Having two pills a day during the period that you are sick should ensure that your contraceptive cover stays in place.

Do other medicines affect my birth control pills?

Common antibiotics will not have any effect on the action of a combined pill. However, drugs that are liver enzyme inducers, such as those used to treat epilepsy, HIV or TB, can affect the efficiency of birth control pills. In case you are on such medication consult your doctor to find another contraception method better suited for your needs. Always disclose all medication that you may be on when you get your combined pill prescription. Even certain herbal remedies can affect the efficiency of the pill.

If I didn’t bleed in my pill-free week am I likely to be pregnant?

As long as you have been taking the pills on time and not missing any doses, then you are unlikely to be pregnant. You can start your next pack of birth control pills after the seven days are over. In case you are doubtful about being pregnant, you can always take a home pregnancy test. The combined pill has no effect on the results of a pregnancy test. Should you still be anxious, consult a doctor.

What other advantages exist for users of the combination pill?

The combination pills are said to help clear up acne in teenagers who are facing fluctuating levels of hormones. They also reduce the possibility of developing ovarian and endometrial cancer. Some women have claimed that their period become shorter and the blood flow during the periods is less. They suffer less from stomach cramps.

What do I do when I have been on the pill, but now want to get pregnant?

Ideally finish the pack of pills that you are on. Then don’t start the next one. Your fertility will begin to return to normal as soon as you stop taking the last active pill. For some women ovulation will start with the very next cycle, or some it may take a few months. It is generally advised to switch to another contraception method for the duration of one menstrual cycle before attempting to become pregnant. This ensures that the woman is able to prepare her body by using folic acid supplements for the pregnancy.

Do I need to give my body a break from taking the pill after a few years?

There is no need to take a break from the pill, unless you are planning on a pregnancy. The hormones that the pill contains are not the type of chemicals that will build up in your blood stream.  They pass out of the body and no harmful effects are felt even after many years of use. There have been no benefits reported to the woman’s health or fertility if she takes a break from the pill after a few years of consuming it regularly.

Reviewed by Liji Thomas, MD.

References

  1. http://www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/combined-pill
  2. https://www.bedsider.org/features/89-which-birth-control-pill-is-right-for-me

Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

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