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Contraceptive pill

Contraceptive pill

There are two types of pills:

  1. 21-day pills          Nora, Microgynon, Yasmin, Deso, etc.
  2. 28-day pills:         Yaz, Zoely, etc.
  • The pill contains hormones.  They make sure that no eggs ripen so that you can’t conceive.  When you stop taking the pill, your own hormones make sure that an egg is released again.
  • The pill is a reliable contraceptive if it is taken correctly.  
  • There are different types of ‘pills’. Most doctors prefer light pills (= low level of hormones), which have few side effects.
  • When you want to use the contraceptive pill, you need a doctor’s prescription.  Afterwards, you can get the pill directly at the pharmacist.  
  • If you have any complaints or questions, it is best to see a doctor.


How do you use the pill?


21-day pills

  • You take one pill every day during a period of three weeks.  
  • Then for one week (= 7 days) you don’t take a pill.  In this gap week your period begins.  
  • After this gap week you start with a new strip (21 pills).  
  • The first day is always the same day of the week (e.g. if you start with the pill on a Monday, after the gap week you have to begin again on a Monday).  
  • If you take the pill every day around the same time (e.g. before you go to bed), there is less risk of forgetting it.

The 28-day pill

  • Each blister contains 24 hormone tablets and 4 inactive tablets (without hormones). The tablets without hormones have a different colour (usually white).
  • Take one tablet daily at about the same time each day during 28 days.
  • When the 28 days are over, you start a new blister the next day. You therefore have no pill-free week.
  • Menstruation should begin on the 2nd - 3rd day of the hormone-free tablets. The bleeding may not always have finished before the next blister is started.
  • BEWARE: with these tablets it is very important to take the tablets in the correct sequence, as indicated on the packaging!


 When are you protected against pregnancy?

  • If you start with your first pill on the first day of your period, you are protected from that moment against pregnancy. 
  • If you start on another day, you are not immediately protected.  Then you also have to use a condom during the first seven days that you take the pill.
  • If you always take the pill on time, you are continuously protected.  Also during the gap week you are safe.
  • Sometimes there is no or not much bleeding during the gap week.  It is possible that you lose some blood between periods, even though you are not yet in a gap week.  Also then you are protected against pregnancy (provided you did not forget to take a pill).

The 4 inactive tablets of 28-day pills correspond to the pill-free week of the "ordinary" 21-day pills.


What do you notice when you take the pill?

  • Some women suffer from headache or sore breasts.  
  • Occasionally it makes a woman more emotional or moody.  
  • There may be some bleeding between periods.  
  • These side effects usually disappear after a few months.  
  • Your period usually becomes less painful.  
  • Because your body retains more fluid, you may gain some weight.  
  • You will lose this fluid once you stop taking the pill.
  • If you take a pill with a low level of hormones, there is less risk of suffering from these side effects.


What are the risks of the pill?

You can use the pill at any age from adolescence to the menopause.  Always discuss your medical history with your doctor.  He or she can judge whether this is a suitable form of contraception for you. A physical examination is not required to prescribe the pill.  In general, it is not risky for your health if you take the pill.  It is better not to smoke when you take the pill.

 

Sickness and medication

  • If you have to vomit or have watery thin diarrhoea within four hours after taking the pill, the pill is no longer reliable.  It is best to use a condom then.  Ask your doctor for advice in case of doubt.
  • If the doctor wants to prescribe other medicines, tell him or her that you are on the pill. Some medication and medicinal herbs can reduce the effectiveness of the pill.


Postpone your period?


21-day pills

  • You can postpone your period by skipping the gap week and start immediately with the next strip.  
  • You can easily postpone your period for two to three months.  
  • After postponing your period for a week, you may have some bleeding in between.  
  • You remain protected against pregnancy.  
  • Don’t forget that you may only have a gap week after taking the whole strip!

The 28-day pill

  • You can delay your period by not taking the inactive tablets and starting a new blister of tablets immediately.
  • After a few weeks delay you may have an intermediate bleeding, though.
  • However, you will still be protected against pregnancy.
  • If you want to have a normal period again, finish the entire blister as you did before (including the inactive tablets).


Payment contraceptives

In Belgium contraceptives are only available at the pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription.  At this moment most contraceptives are reimbursed.  The national health care service (mutualiteit) can give you information about the repayment of other contraceptives such as a coil, patch, ring, implant and the new contraceptive pills.

For young people under 21 there is an additional discount for all contraceptives on presentation of your SIS-card.  Some contraceptives are even free of charge.

Be careful: the brand name of your contraceptive may differ from country to country.  It is best to take your packet to the doctor.  He can look at the composition and prescribe the same product (sometimes with another name).

 

Read the leaflet here.