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GB-NON-110021 | Date of Preparation: September 2021

 

FAQs

 

FAQs

Can contraception protect me from sexually transmitted infections?

The only contraception that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are condoms.1

You should use a condom until you and your partner have been tested for STIs and are sure that neither of you has an STI.1

Is contraception free and where can I get it?

Yes, you can get contraception for free from:2

  • Most general practitioner (GP) surgeries
  • Contraception clinics or sexual health clinics
  • Some GUM clinics
  • Some young people’s services

Emergency contraception is available for free from:3

  • Contraception clinics
  • Some young people's clinics
  • Most pharmacies
  • Most sexual health or GUM clinics
  • Most NHS walk-in centres and minor injury units
  • Some GP surgeries
  • Some hospital (A&E) departments

You can also buy emergency contraception from most pharmacies.3 It will cost around £25–£35.3 There may be some age restrictions for certain types.3

What should I do if I miss a combined pill, or I throw up or have diarrhoea?

If you miss one pill or start a new pack a day late, you’re still protected against getting pregnant and don’t need to use extra contraception. Just take the pill you missed as soon as you remember, even if that means you take two pills in one day.4


A few types might be different, so double check the leaflet that comes with your pills if you’re not sure.4


If you throw up within 2 hours of taking your pill, your body probably won’t have had time to absorb it. You should take another pill straight away after being sick and then take your next pill at the usual time. If you do not vomit again and you follow these steps, you should still be protected from getting pregnant.5


If you’re throwing up or have diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, try to take the pill as normal but also use extra contraception such as condoms if you have sex. Count each day you have sickness and diarrhoea as a day you have missed your pill and take extra precautions.5

What should I do if I miss a progestogen-only pill, or I throw up or have diarrhoea?

The advice for missing a pill depends on whether your pill has desogestrel or not. Check the leaflet that comes with your pill if you’re not sure.6


If it’s been less than three hours for a non-desogestrel pill, or less than 12 for a desogestrel pill, you’re still protected against pregnancy. Just take the missed pill as soon as you remember. If it’s been longer than this, you won’t be protected. Take your pill as soon as you remember, even if that means two in one day. You’ll need to use condoms for the next 2 days afterwards.6


If you throw up within 2 hours of taking your pill, your body probably won’t have had time to absorb it. You should take another pill straight away after being sick and then take your next pill at the usual time. If you do not vomit again and you follow these steps, you should still be protected from getting pregnant.5


If you’re throwing up or have diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, try to take the pill as normal but also use extra contraception such as condoms if you have sex. Count each day you have sickness and diarrhoea as a day you have missed your pill and take extra precautions.5

When will my periods come back after stopping the pill?

After you stop taking the pill, your period should come back in about 2–4 weeks. However, this depends on you as well as your natural cycle. Factors such as weight, health and stress can affect your cycle.7


Your first period after stopping the pill is known as the ‘withdrawal bleed’. The second period is your first natural period. After coming off the pill, your periods may be irregular. It may take up to 3 months for your natural cycle to return to what is normal for you.7


You can get pregnant as soon you as come off the pill, so if you want to stay protected don’t forget to use another form of contraception (such as condoms) straight after you stop taking the pill.7


If you are trying to get pregnant, it may be best to wait until after you’ve had a natural period. This gives you time to make sure your health is at its best, for example by giving up smoking and alcohol.7

Are all contraceptive pills the same?

No. There are two types – the combined pill (‘the Pill’), which contains both oestrogen and progestogen, and the progestogen-only pill (‘POP’).8


There is a wide range in each group, and different pills will suit different women. If you feel like yours isn’t working for you, talk to your doctor or nurse.8

I have just had a baby and am breastfeeding. Can I still get pregnant?

Yes, you can still get pregnant 3 weeks after the birth of your baby, even if you're breastfeeding and your periods haven't started again.9


Women who are breastfeeding are unlikely to get pregnant during the first six months if:9

  • They are breastfeeding their baby exclusively

Please see your doctor for advice if you are worried about an unplanned pregnancy.

How often can I use emergency contraception?

You should use your usual contraception as correctly as possible and only use emergency contraception as an emergency back-up.10


The intrauterine device (IUD) can also be a form of emergency contraception after sex if it has been fitted up to five days after the earliest predicted ovulation.3

Should I stop using contraception at a certain age?

You can use contraception that’s right for you for as long as you want. However, after menopause you may no longer need it. Your menopause is when you stop ovulating and stop having periods – this means you can no longer get pregnant.11


Speak to your doctor if:

  • You’re worried that a certain type of contraception is not suitable for you
  • You’re over 50 (as your doctor may want to switch you to another type)

This information is not intended as a replacement for the information leaflet included with your contraceptive medication. Please visit your doctor, nurse or local contraception clinic for more information and to discuss your options.