- The combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) is widely used in Australia by women for both contraception and cycle control. The pill contains 2 hormones – oestrogen and progesterone – hence, the term “combined.”
- We always, always, check your blood pressure before we commence the COCP or give you a repeat script – the reason is the oestrogen in the COCP can cause raised blood pressure and so we continually monitor this. If you are going to see the GP for a repeat script of your pill you can be rest assured you will get your blood pressure checked!
- The COCP is GREAT at protecting against pregnancy IF you take it correctly. The COCP does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STI) like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. If you are taking the COCP and not in a monogamous sexual relationship (where both you and the partner have had a negative STI screen) then condoms are the only way to protect yourself against STIs when having sex!
- There are some women who cannot have the COCP due to potential side effects. One group is women who get migraine with aura; as per the World Health Organisation these women should not receive the COCP due to the increased risk of stroke. FYI aura is when you have a warning prior to the migraine coming on; this can be blurred vision or flashing lights for instance.
- Despite how the pill packets look with a withdrawal bleed monthly (the sugar pills) you do not NEED to have a monthly withdrawal bleed. You can skip the sugar pills and continue to take the active pills on the next packet. Lots of women skip periods and end up having 3-4 periods a year to reduce iron losses and for convenience. It is safe – however, you may find if you don’t have a withdrawal bleed every 3-4 months you get break through bleeding so you need to see how the pill works for you!
An excellent resource for the COCP (including what to do if you miss a pill to ensure you do not get pregnant) is www.shinesa.org.au.