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The Pill

What is the pill?

"The pill" is a small hormonal tablet that you take at the same time every day.

There are heaps of different pills on the market, so there's often a choice involved - you have the power!

There are two main types of pills:

Combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP), and progesterone-only pill (POP).


They work by stopping ovulation (release of an egg) but can have other effects too. 


The pill is "an oldie but a goodie". It's been around for a long time, so we have heaps of information on it.

Pills work best when you take them at the same time every day. If you decide you want a pregnancy, just stop taking it. 

The risk of pregnancy is 8 per 100 women with typical use but can be as good

as less than 1 per 100 women if used perfectly.


does this mean?

Doctors discuss the

effectiveness of contraception

by "perfect" and "typical" use.

This is because some methods are affected by human error: 

Perfect use:

The method is used perfectly

(no human error)

   Typical use:

Accounts for human

error (e.g. forgetting

a pill) 

How good? 

A great method of birth control if taken properly! Not so good if you forget to take pills...

>99% effective at preventing pregnancy with perfect use, 92% with typical (forgetting pills etc)

How easy? 

Take a pill at the same time every day.

Put the packet next to your toothbrush, or set an alarm on your phone so you don't miss it. 

Side effects? 

Combined pill: small increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes

(these risks are mostly in women >35, overweight, smokers, or have a family history of these conditions)

How hard to get? 

Appointment with your GP or Family Planning. 

How much?

Prescription cost ($5) for 6-month supply. 

Often need to see the prescriber once a year for a general check-up to ensure the pill is still suitable


That's $10 per year​ (+ a GP appointment)
for birth control

types of pill

We’d love it if you would if you would c

combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP)

How does it work?

The COCP stops you from getting pregnant by stopping you from ovulating (releasing an egg each month). 


how long does it last?

  • 48 hours (this is why you have to take it at the same time every day!)

  • When you start, you are covered once you have taken seven hormonal pills in a row (on time)

  • See below for how to take the pill correctly 


why would it suit me? 

The combined pill can be particularly helpful if:

  • You have heavy or painful periods

  • You want something that has been around for a long time and we know works

  • You remember to take pills 

Image by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition

progesterone only pill (POP)

How does it work?

The POP is a hormone that has multiple effects to stop pregnancies.:

  • Thins the lining of the womb (so the embryo can't implant

  • Thickens cervical mucus (so sperm can't get into the womb)

  • Can stop ovulation in some women


how long does it last?

  • 24 hours (this is why you have to take it at the same time every day!)

  • You are only covered when you take at least 2 pills in a row (on time)

  • See below for how to take the pill correctly


why would it suit me? 

The POP can be particularly helpful if:

  • You can't take the combined pill

  • You want something that has been around for a long time and we know works

  • You remember to take pills

  • You are postpartum and/or breastfeeding


  • Easy to use

  • Doesn't interfere with sex

  • Combined pill

  • Reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus)

  • Reduced period pain and bleeding

  • Can be taken in multiple different ways:

  • Take hormonal pills back-to-back (miss the sugar pills... why have a period when you don't need one?!!)

  • Reduce the pill-free-interval (only take 3-4 sugar pills and have a short period) 

  • Take hormonal pills back-to-back and then have a period when you get some spotting/breakthrough bleeding (take sugar pills for a few days)

  • Take as the packet says

  • Progesterone only pill 

  • Can take post-partum (after having a pēpē/baby)

  • Safe in breastfeeding


  • Must take every day, on time

  • Do not protect against STIs

  • Combined pill

  • Very small increased risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots (this is why you need to see a doctor before starting)

  • Very small increased risk of cervical cancer

  • Can have irregular or breakthrough bleeding

  • Progesterone only pill 

  • Irregular bleeding  

How to take
the pill



Check out how you take the progesterone-only pill from HealthNavigator and what to do if you miss a dose (this is written information, not a video):

Here are some videos for different combined pills and how to take them: 



In time Luna Health hope to have our own "how to take the pill" videos available!
Watch this space. 

what next?

You will need to book an appointment with your GP or Family Planning to ensure the pill is the correct birth control method for you.


Once confirmed, you can proceed to have the pill prescribed by a trained professional.  

In the future Luna Health hope to provide a birth control service that assesses eligibility for each birth control method.

This will save you time and money meaning you only need to physically see a doctor once

Share your experience

help others decide what is best for them 

Your experience
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your experience


Hannah, 30

I was on the Norimin contraceptive pill for 13 years and loved it. It was easy to take a pill every day and not have to worry about getting pregnant. I liked the flexibility of skipping my period when it didn't suit my life plans!

Nature Artwork

Laura, 29

I started on the contraceptive pill when I was 16. I tried various kinds over the years to manage side effects (Levlen, Ava, Yasmin), but after 10 years I decided to come off the pill. I didn't enjoy the burden of responsibility, especially when I experienced a range of side effects - including skin/acne breakouts and breakthrough bleeding. I planned to use condoms temporarily while I assessed other options, but now it'd been a few years. I know there are other options I can explore if I want a change.

Avatar 105

Ella, 28

I used a combined pill (Levlen) for about 7 years. It was really convenient being able to control my periods and I never experienced cramps. When I came off it I quickly lost a lot of weight and felt much more emotionally stable so I decided to stay off the pill from then.

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