Changing your contraceptive pill

Dr Kathryn Basford

Medically reviewed by

Dr Kathryn Basford

Last reviewed: 21 Mar 2022

Are you considering changing your contraceptive pill? It’s easier than you think. There is a range of pills to choose from. So if you think your contraceptive is not right for you, it is possible to change your current pill.

And in some circumstances, switching contraceptive pills does not require using extra protection to prevent pregnancy. However, we recommend that you follow our advice below. You can also message one of our doctors through your patient account, if you’ve got any questions.

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Why you might switch the type of contraceptive pill you take

You might want to switch the type of contraceptive pill you take if:

  • you’re having side effects from your current pill that you want to reduce or avoid altogether
  • you can no longer take oestrogen (for example, due to a risk of blood clots)
  • you want the other benefits of certain pills, like reducing acne

Whether you want to take the combined pill or the mini pill, there are many alternative contraceptive pills to choose from to find the right one for you.

Switching from one combined contraceptive to another combined contraceptive

If you are switching from a combined contraceptive pill to another combined contraceptive, you need to make sure there is no gap in taking an ‘active pill’.

Active pills contain the hormones oestrogen and progestogen. Taking these hormones at a constant dose prevents pregnancy.

When can I change from my current combined pill to another combined pill?

When you can change pills depends on which type of combined contraceptive pill you are currently taking or switching from.

There are 2 types of combined pill:

  • ‘21 day pills’, where you take 1 active pill daily for 21 days only, and then no pills for 7 days (this is known as a ‘pill break’). The cycle then starts again. The majority of combined pills are 21 day pills. Examples include Logynon or Rigevidon.

You should begin your new combined pill the day after you finish your blister pack of 21 pills for your current pill (on ‘day 22’).

  • ‘28 day pills’, where you take 1 active pill daily for 21 days, then 1 inactive pill daily for 7 days. These 7 inactive pills have no hormones in them. The cycle then starts again. An example of a 28 day pill is Qlaira.

You should begin your new combined pill the day after your last active pill for your current pill (on ‘day 22’). That means you skip your 7 inactive pills for your current pill, and just start your new combined pill.

You will not have a break in contraceptive protection when taken like this.

Switching from combined contraceptive pill to the mini pill

To switch from the combined pill to the mini pill, you can begin taking the mini pill the day after you finish your 21 pill blister strip for your current combined pill.

If you have any inactive pills in your current combined pack, do not take these.

With the mini pill, you take it every day at the same time each day, without taking a break. So at the end of your mini pill blister strip, go onto a new strip straight away.

Switching from one mini pill to another mini pill

Switching from one mini pill to another mini pill is simple because they all contain a type of progestogen.

When you’re ready to start your new mini pill, stop taking your current mini pill and simply take your new pill at the same time each day. You do not need to take a break, or finish your blister strip for your current pill before switching.

When can I change from my current mini pill to another mini pill?

You can change from your current mini pill to another mini pill on any day. You’ll still have protection and do not need to use extra contraception (like condoms).

Make sure that you have not missed any pills recently, and take your pill at the same time each day to stay protected.

Switching from a mini pill to a combined contraceptive pill

If you are switching from the mini pill to a combined contraceptive pill, you can start the new combined pill on any day, but you won’t be protected straight away. You will need to use another type of contraception (like condoms) or not have sex until you have taken the new pill for 7 days.

If you have missed any mini pills before starting the new combined pill, check with your doctor to make sure you are still covered.

dr-kathryn-basford.png
Medically reviewed by:
Dr Kathryn Basford

Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.

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Article created: 26 Nov 2021

Last reviewed: 21 Mar 2022



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