There are many different brands of the combined pill, made up of three main types – combined 21 day pills, phasic 21 day pills and everyday (ED) pills.
This is the most common type. Each pill has the same amount of hormone in it. One pill is taken each day for 21 days and then stoped for the next seven days. Microgynon, Marvelon, Yasmine and Cilest are examples of this type of pill.
Phasic 21-day pills
Phasic pills contain two or three sections of different coloured pills in a pack. Each section contains a different amount of hormones. One pill is taken each day for 21 days and then stopped for the next seven days. Phasic pills need to be taken in the right order. Logynon is an example of this type of pill.
Every day (ED) pills
There are 21 active pills and seven inactive (dummy) pills in a pack. The two types of pill look different. One pill is taken each day for 28 days with no break between packets of pills. Every day pills need to be taken in the right order. Microgynon ED is an example of this type of pill.
The “traditional” progestogen-only pill (POP) prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix to stop sperm reaching an egg. The desogestrel progestogen-only pill can also stop ovulation. Progestogen-only pills contain the hormone progestogen, but don’t contain oestrogen.
You only have to use a diaphragm or cap when you have sex, but you must leave it in for at least 6 hours after the last time you had sex. You can leave it in for longer than this, but don’t take it out before.
You need to apply more spermicide if:
- you have sex again with the diaphragm or cap in place
the diaphragm or cap has been in place for three hours or more before you have sex
- Don’t take the diaphragm or cap out to reapply spermicide.
You shouldn’t use a diaphragm or cap during your period as there is a possible link with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare condition that can be life threatening.
Most women are able to use a diaphragm or cap, but it may not be suitable for you if you:
- have an unusually shaped or positioned cervix (entrance to the womb), or if you can’t reach your cervix
- have weakened vaginal muscles (possibly as a result of giving birth) that can’t hold a diaphragm in place
- have a sensitivity or an allergy to latex or the chemicals in spermicide
- have ever had toxic shock syndrome
- have repeated urinary tract infections
- currently have a vaginal infection (wait until your infection clears before using a diaphragm or cap)
aren’t comfortable touching your vagina
- have a high risk of getting an STI – for example, if you have multiple sexual partners
Research shows spermicides that contain the chemical nonoxynol-9 don’t protect against STIs, and may even increase your risk of getting an infection.
A diaphragm or cap may be less effective if:
- it’s damaged – for example, it’s torn or has holes
- it’s not the right size for you
- you use it without spermicide
- you don’t use extra spermicide with your diaphragm or cap every time you have more sex
- you remove it too soon (less than 6 hours after the last time you had sex)
- you use oil-based products, such as baby lotion, bath oils, moisturiser or some vaginal medicines (for example, pessaries) with latex diaphragms – these can damage the latex
If any of these things happen or you’ve had sex without contraception, you may need to use emergency contraception.
Depo-Provera is most commonly given in the UK and lasts for 13 weeks. Occasionally, Noristerat may be given, which lasts for 8 weeks. Sayana Press also lasts for 13 weeks, but it’s a newer type of injection so is not available at all clinics or GP surgeries. You usually have the Depo-Provera and Noristerat injections in your bottom, but you can have them in your upper arm. You can have the Sayana Press injection in your tummy (abdomen) or thigh and would normally learn to do this yourself.