Oral contraceptive methods, including the combined pill and the progestogen-only pill, are reviewed in this article, the first in a series of three on contraception. Medical contraindications to the contraceptive pill, how to start it, what to do when problems arise and when to consider emergency contraception are also discussed.
- Oral contraceptives are reversible, effective and user friendly. More women in Australia use this form of fertility management than any other method.
- New and clearer guidelines have been developed and published over the past decade to aid healthcare providers prescribe oral contraception safely and appropriately.
- An important factor is the potential for use of the combined oral contraceptive pill to have an unfavourable or dangerous risk for women with existing medical or lifestyle conditions.
- A practical problem with the oral contraceptive pill is side effects such as nausea and irregular bleeding, which can often be resolved by changing the type or formulation of the pill.
- Hormonal emergency contraception prevents or delays ovulation and may affect implantation. It should be taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex.