Contraceptive pills

    • Brief

    • The contraceptive pill is a method of contraception.

      The contraceptive pill is usually a pack containing 21 pills. Sometimes one pack contains 24 or 28 pills. There are many different types of packaging (different colours, rectangular, round, etc.).

      The contraceptive pill contains two hormones. These hormones prevent ovulation. They also make it more difficult for sperm cells to enter the uterus.

      There is also a contraceptive pill that contains one hormone, the mini-pill.

    • How to take the contraceptive pill

    • A pack with 21 pills should be used in the following way:

      • Take one pill every day at the same time. The days of the week are usually marked on the back of the pack. You can check that you did not forget to take a pill.
      • After 21 days (3 weeks), the pack is finished.
      • For the next seven days (1 week), you do not take any pills. This week you will begin to lose blood through the vagina (menstrual period). In this week, you are also protected against pregnancy.
      • After seven days (1 week), you start a new pack of pills, even if you are still bleeding.
      • Continue following the previous steps.

      Take one pill from the pack every day at the same time.

      After 21 days (3 weeks), the pack is finished. This week your menstrual period will start. After seven days (1 week), you start a new pack of pills, even if you are still bleeding.

    • Is the contraceptive pill reliable?

    • Yes, the contraceptive pill is reliable if used correctly.

      The contraceptive pill can be less reliable, if:

      • You do not always take it at the same time (especially if you take the pill more than 12 hours after the time you usually take it).
      • You vomit within 2 hours of taking the pill.
      • You are taking certain medicines such as St John’s wort. Tell your doctor you are taking the contraceptive pill. He will take this into account when prescribing medicines.
      • You forget to take a pill.

      Use a condom if you have sexual intercourse and the contraceptive pill is less reliable.

      Only taking a contraceptive pill on the days that you have sexual intercourse is not reliable at all.

    • What to do if you forgot to take your pill

    • What to do if you forgot to take one pill:

      • Take the contraceptive pill as soon as possible, even if it means taking two pills on the same day.
      • Continue to take the rest of the pills in the pack as usual.
      • You are protected against unintended pregnancy.
      • You do not need emergency contraception (morning-after pill) if you have had unprotected sex in the past few days.

      What to do if you forget to take two or more pills? - In the first week of the pack (day 1 to 7):

      • Take the last pill that you forgot as soon as possible, even if it means taking two pills on the same day.
      • Continue to take the rest of the pills in the pack as usual.
      • Also, use a condom when having sexual intercourse in the next seven days.
      • If you have had unprotected sex in the previous five days and you do not want to get pregnant, take emergency contraception (morning-after pill) as soon as possible.

      What to do if you forgot to take 1 to (at most) 3 pills? - In the second week of the pack (day 8 to 14):

      • Take the last pill that you forgot as soon as possible, even if it means taking two pills on the same day.
      • Continue to take the rest of the pills in the pack as usual.
      • Also, use a condom when having sexual intercourse in the next seven days.
      • You do not need emergency contraception if you have had unprotected sex in the past few days.

      What to do if you forgot to take two or more pills? - In the third week of the pack (day 15 to 21):

      • Take the last pill that you forgot as soon as possible, even if it means taking two pills on the same day.
      • Continue to take the rest of the pills in the pack as usual.
      • If the pack is finished, immediately start a new pack the following day. Do not take a 7-day break.
      • Also, use a condom when having sexual intercourse in the next seven days.
      • You do not need emergency contraception (morning-after pill) if you have had unprotected sex in the past few days.

      If you forgot to take two or more pills in different weeks of the pack, ask a healthcare professional for help.

      If you frequently forget to take a pill, you can use something to help you remember or talk to a doctor about a different method of contraception.

    • No damage to your health

    • The pill contains hormones. These hormones usually do not damage your health. However, in some cases it is better to choose a different method of contraception. Ask a doctor for advice.

      The contraceptive pill does not make you less fertile. If you want to get pregnant, just stop taking the pill.

      Taking the pill will not make you gain weight.

      Taking the pill will not make you gain more body hair.

      During the first months that you take the contraceptive pill, the pill may cause side-effects such as tender breasts, minor bleeding between 2 menstrual periods, headaches and nausea. These effects usually disappear spontaneously. If they do not disappear, consult a doctor. There are different kinds of contraceptive pills. Together with a doctor, you can find the contraceptive pill most suitable for you.

      Your menstrual periods often become less heavy and less painful.

    • No protection against HIV and STIs

    • The contraceptive pill does not protect against STIs or HIV. Only a condom can protect you.

    • Mini-pill progestin-only contraception

    • You can also take the mini-pill. It is similar to the regular contraceptive pill, but a pack of mini-pills contains 28 pills instead of 21.

      The mini-pill contains one hormone. The hormone makes it more difficult for sperm cells to enter the uterus and reach the egg cell.

      You can take the mini-pill if you are breastfeeding.

      The most common side-effects of the mini-pill are irregular menstrual periods and the absence of, or a reduction in, menstruation.


      How to take the mini-pill

      Take the mini-pill in the following way:

      • Take one pill every day at the same time.
      • Start a new one the next day when you finish a pack after 28 days (4 weeks). You continue to take the mini-pill during your menstrual period.

      The mini-pill is less safe if you forget to take it for more than 12 hours after your usual time.

      Take one pill every day at the same time.

      Start a new one the next day when you finish a pack after 28 days (4 weeks). You continue to take the mini-pill during your menstrual period.

    • Buying the contraceptive pill

    • You do not need a prescription from your healthcare provider to buy the contraceptive pill in Nigeria. You can buy the contraceptive pill without a prescription at the pharmacy or in a private hospital. Contraceptive pills are free at the public hospital when available.

      If you live in an internally displaced person camp in Nigeria, contraceptives are available free to you.

      You can ask a healthcare professional for more information.