Short acting methods of contraception are methods that need to be taken or changed every day, week or month. They all contain hormones.

Combined Pill

The combined pill contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. This pill works by stopping ovulation and thickening the mucus in the cervix, so sperm find it harder to get through to the uterus.  It is over 99% effective if taken correctly.  There is  usually  a monthly "withdrawal bleed":  you can delay this at inconvenient times.

  • It can help if your periods are heavy or painful
  • It can help premenstrual symptoms (PMS)
  • It can help with acne
  • It is not suitable for women with conditions such as high blood pressure, or migraines with aura
  • There may be some minor side effects which should settle:  these include headaches, nausea, breast tenderness or mood changes
  • Like many contraceptive methods, it does not protect against sexual transmitted infections.

Contraceptive Patch

The contraceptive patch is a small square patch that sticks to your skin and contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. This patch works by stopping ovulation and thickening the mucus in the cervix, so sperm find it harder to get through to the uterus.  The patch is worn continuously for seven days, then changed each week for 3 weeks, then followed by a patch-free week.  There is usually a monthly 'withdrawal bleed': you can delay this at inconvenient times.

  • It is over 99% effective if used correctly
  • You don’t have to think about it every day, you only have to replace the patch once a week
  • You can shower, bath, swim and exercise while using the patch (they are very sticky)
  • It can help if your periods are heavy or painful
  • It can help with acne
  • It is not suitable for women with conditions such as high blood pressure or migraines with aura
  • You may experience some minor side effects which should settle, these include headaches, nausea, breast tenderness or mood changes
  • Like many contraceptive methods it does not protect against sexual transmitted infections.

Contraceptive Vaginal Ring

The contraceptive vaginal ring is a soft plastic ring which you self-insert into your vagina. The ring contains two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen. This ring works by stopping ovulation and thickening the mucus in the cervix, so sperm find it harder to get through to the uterus.  The ring is inserted into the vagina and left in continuously for 21 days (3 weeks); it is then removed  and thrown away, followed by a seven-day break when there is no ring in place. There is usually a monthly 'withdrawal bleed': you can delay this at inconvenient times.

  • It is over 99% effective if used correctly
  • Easily inserted and removed (you do it by yourself)
  • It can help if your periods are heavy or painful
  • It is not suitable for women with conditions such as high blood pressure, or migraines with aura
  • There may be minor side effects which should settle; these include headaches, nausea, breast tenderness or mood changes
  • Like many contraceptive methods it does not protect against sexual transmitted infections.

Progestogen only Pill

The progestogen only pill (sometimes still called the mini pill) contains just one hormone progestogen. The pill works by thickening the mucus in the cervix which stops sperm reaching an egg, it can also stop ovulation.  You take the pill every day, with no break between packs.

  • When taking the pill your periods may become lighter, irregular, or they may stop altogether
  •  It is over 99% effective if taken correctly
  • Can be taken by some women who cannot use the combined pill, patch or ring
  • Can be used when breastfeeding             
  • There may be some minor side effects which should settle: these include nausea, breast tenderness or skin changes
  • Like many other contraceptive methods, it does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.