The Combined Hormonal Contraceptive Pill commonly known as the Pill, contain low doses of two hormones – Oestrogen & Progestogen which are similar to the hormones naturally produced in a woman’s ovaries. The two hormones work together to prevent pregnancy.

The Pill is 93% – over 99% effective.

The Pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or blood-borne viruses (BBVs). Practice safer sex by using condoms to reduce the risk of STIs and BBVs.

    What is the Pill?

    The pill also known as the combined pill or oral contraceptive contain oestrogen and progestogen which are hormones similar to the ones made naturally in a womans ovaries.
    Many brands of the Pill available in Australia. All have different types and doses of progestogen and oestrogen in them.

    Most packets of Pill contain either:

    28 pills – 21 hormone pills and 7 pills which do not contain hormones (non-hormone pills)
    28 pills – 24 hormone pills and 4 pills which do not contain hormones (non-hormone pills)


    How does the Pill Work?

    The pill contains 2 hormones – Progestogen and Oestrogen which work together to prevent pregnancy by stopping the release of an egg each month (ovulation).

    These 2 hormones also cause the mucus of the cervix to thicken which makes it hard for sperm to enter the uterus (womb).

    When you take the non-hormonal pills, which are a part of the 28 pills supplied each packet of pills, you will get a “withdrawal bleed” like a period.

    How well does the Pill Work?

    The Pill is a tablet which needs to be taken daily. If used correctly it is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

    The pill is less effective if it is missed or not taken at the correct time. This is also the case if you have severe diarrhea or vomit within 2 hours of taking the pill.

    Certain medications, including epileptic and herbal remedies, also reduces the effectiveness of the Pill.

    Who Can take the Pill?

    Women can safely use the Pill up to the age of 50 years of age as long as there are NO medical reasons why they shouldn’t take it.

    The Pill is not recommended for women whom have:

    •  A history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT – blood clot in the vein), a stroke, heart attack or other types of heart disease.
    • A condition prone to blood clots
    • Breast or Liver Cancer
    • Severe liver problems.
    • Certain types of migraine (migraines with aura)
    • Systemic Lupis erythematosus (SLE)
    • Unusual vaginal bleeding.

    You may also not be able to take the Pill if you:

    • Are over 35 and smoke.
    • Have high blood pressure or diabetes.
    • Are Overweight (Body mass index of 35kg / m2).

    Your doctor will assist you decide on a contraceptive method suitable for you.

    What's good about the Pill?

    There are many advantages of choosing the Pill including:

    • It works well when taken correctly i.e. taken at the same time every day.
    • It can reduce period pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
    • It can be used to prevent a period.
    • Fertility returns to normal straight away when you stop taking them.
    • It reduces the symptoms of endometriosis.
    • It regulates monthly bleeding which is good for those women whom have irregular bleeding (periods).
    • It may improve premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
    • It can improve Acne.
    • It can reduce the risk of some cancers including ovarian, uterine and bowel cancers.

    Why the Pill might not be right for you?

    The pill might not be right for you if:

    • You have difficulty remembering to take the pill at the same time every day.
    • You have spotting or breakthrough bleeding.
    • You cannot have the hormone Oestrogen.

    Are there any Side Effects from taking the Pill?

    The Pill is a hormonal contraceptive and side effects include:

    • Headaches.
    • Nausea or bloating.
    • Breast tenderness.
    • Acne.
    • Mood changes.
    • Skin Changes – Patchy brown marks.
    • Reduced interest in sex.

    Most side effects settle within 3 months of starting the Pill.

    Please consult your Doctor if side effects continue and are impacting on your lifestyle.

    Where can I get the Pill?

    The pill is available from any pharmacies however you will need a prescription.

    The cost of the Pill is largely dependent on whether you have a Concessions and or Medicare card.

    Your doctor will be able to identify which brand of the Pill is most suitable for you.

    How do I take the Pill?

    The Pill needs to be taken (swallowed) at the same time every day.

    Starting the Pill for the first time requires an assessment by the Doctor and a prescription.

    Most brands of the Pill contain packets containing 28 pills, made up of 21 hormone pills and 7 non- hormone pills (commonly known as sugar pills).

    It recommended that you start the Pill in the first 5 days of a normal period as the Pill will be effective immediately. Your doctor will explain this to you.

    Your doctor may suggest starting at a later time in your monthly cycle but you will need to wait 7 days for the Pill to become effective.

    When you are on the Pill you will have a period whilst you are taking the non – hormonal pills (sugar pills). This is referred to as withdrawal bleeding.

    You can choose to skip your period (withdrawal bleeding) by not taking the non- hormonal tablets (sugar pills) and continue with the first hormonal pill of a new packet the following day.

    Set a reminder on your phone, calendar etc. to help you remember to take your Pill

    What could stop the pil from working properly?

    The Pill might not work if:

    • You are more than 24 hours late taking the pill or missed more than 1 pill.
    • You vomit within 2 hours of taking the pill.
    • You have had severe diarrohea.
    • Your taking certain medications and natural remedies. Check with your doctor.

    What do I do if I miss a Pill?

    What you do after missing a pill largely depends how long since you took your last pill and how many pills you have missed.

    The information below can help you get back on track and prevent pregnancy until the effects of the Pill becomes effective once again.

    Are you less than 24 hours late in taking your Pill?
    Step 1 – Take the Pill as soon as you can
    Step 2 – Take your next pill at the usual time (it may mean you take 2 pills in one day).
    Please Note:
    The Pill is still effective in protecting you against pregnancy

    Are you more than 24 hours late?
    Step 1 – Take the pill as soon as you can
    Step 2 – Take your next pill at the usual time (it may mean you take 2 pills in one day)
    Step 3 – Throw away any other missed pills.
    Step 4 – Keep on taking the Pill as usual
    Step 5 – You may need Emergency Contraception. See below
    Step 6 – Have you miossed 1 or more pills and have less than 7 hormone Pills left?

    If Yes:
    • Continue to take the remaining pills at the usual time
    • Skip the non-hormonal pills (commonly known as the sugar pills) and continue onto ‘Day 1’ of the next packet.

    Please Note:
    At this time the Pill is not effective in protecting you against pregnancy.
    **You need to use another form of contraception e.g. condoms or don’t have sexual intercourse for 7 days.

    Do I need to take Emergency Contraception (EC) if I miss The Pill?

    You may need to consider getting Emergency Contraception if:

    • You have had unprotected sex anytime within a week (7 days) of being 24 hours late in taking your last pill or missed more than 1 pill.
    • You have missed more than one pill in the first week of starting a new pill packet and have had unprotected sex within the last 5 days.
    • You are more than 24hours late in starting a new pill packet and have had unprotected sex within the last 5 days.

    For more information about EC go to Emergency Contraception – Family Planning Tasmania

    What else do I need to know?

    If you run out of pills and can’t get to a doctor for a new prescription speak to the pharmacist. Some pharmacists may give you a small supply of pills if you show them your old pill packet.

    If you are breast feeding you cannot use the Pill until your baby is 6 weeks’ old.

    If you do get pregnant whilst on the pill it is safe to continue the pregnancy. You need to stop the Pill immediately.

    Some studies show an increased risk of Breast Cancer in women taking the Pill.

    It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. You still need to use condoms.

    Talk to you doctor or pharmacists about any medications you are taking.

    Where to get more information, support or advice.

    Family Planning Tasmania has clinics in Glenorchy, Launceston, and Burnie. Click here to contact a clinic near you

    Any of our Doctors or Nurses can assist you with information or support about the Pill, or you can talk to your regular GP.

    You can also download our My Choice App which can help you to be informed and take control of you own sexual health. Go to My Choice

    9am-5pm Mon-Fri6273 9117
    9am-5pm Mon-Fri6343 4566
    9am-5pm Mon, Wed, Thurs6431 7692