birth control

Combined Pill:


A pill that contains both synthetic forms of natural hormones (oestrogen and progestogen). The pill stops the ovaries releasing an egg. For it to work properly it needs to be taken every day.

Who should use this? The pill is mostly used to prevent pregnancy. It can be used to treat heavy periods, painful periods, PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome, and Endometriosis. It can also improve acne.

There are lots of different pills, are they the same? No, they are all slightly different. Some cause particular side effects in some people, but won’t in others. If you find a pill you prefer, stick to that brand. Your doctor can suggest similar medications if that brand is no longer funded.

Will the pill make me put on weight? Evidence has shown that appetite increases in the first three months of pill taking – and of course if you eat more you may gain weight! Some pills may cause water retention when you first start taking them. But most modern contraceptive pills can avoid water retention to some extent.

Will the pill give me spots or make me feel sick? When some women start the pill they breakout in spots. If this happens, talk to your doctor because many pills help with acne and you may need to switch. Some women experience nausea with the pill, if so you may need to switch to a lower dose pill. Other side effects may include mood swings, tender or sore breasts, headaches, breakthrough bleeding and spotting.

Is it safe to have sex during the 4-7 day break (sugar pills)? Yes, as long as you have remembered to take your last week of hormonal pills.

I’ve missed a pill/had vomiting or diarrhoea what should I do? Take the active pill as soon as you remember. If you have missed two pills in a row you will need to do the 7-day rule. This means to take the hormone pill each day for a week, and to use a condom with sex for additional protection.

Can I skip my periods altogether? Yes. By taking the hormone pills continuously and missing the sugar pills. See here for more information.

Why do I need to know my blood pressure? Contraceptive pills can increase your blood pressure, and increase your risk of stroke and blood clots. For your safety it is important to know what your blood pressure level is, so that these risks are avoided. SwiftMed recommends that you buy your own blood pressure monitor. If you shop around they can cost between NZ$80 – $140. You can buy a reputable blood pressure monitor from these stockists. Or you can have your blood pressure measured for free at Countdown Pharmacies


Mini-pill (Progestogen Only Pill):


A pill that contains a small amount of a synthetic-made natural hormone (progestogen) taken daily. This pill thickens cervical mucus and/or stops ovaries releasing an egg. For it to work it needs to be taken at roughly the same time of each day. Use your phone alarm.

When do I take it? Noriday & Microlut need to be taken within 3 hours of the same time each day. Cerazette must be taken within 12 hours of the same time each day.

What side effects will I notice? Your bleeding pattern might change. 20% of women have no bleeding at all, 40% of women will have regular periods and 40% of women will have irregular bleeding. Research has shown that the mini-pill does NOT cause weight gain, depression or headaches.

Who can use it? This is an alternative pill for women who cannot use the combined pill for medical reasons, or for women who are breastfeeding.

Who shouldn’t use the mini-pill? For women who have had breast cancer or who are taking some anti-epileptic medicines. Or women who have abnormal vaginal bleeding that hasn’t been investigated by a doctor.

To see a doctor for a 6 month prescription: