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Got a question about contraception or periods? Want to feel a bit more clued up when considering your options? Worried about asking your doctor a silly question? Hopefully we can answer everything here.

Which is the most effective contraceptive method at preventing pregnancy?
The combined oral contraceptive pill, progestogen-only pill, contraceptive vaginal ring and contraceptive vaginal patch are all more than 99% effective if used correctly. The contraceptive injection, contraceptive implant, IUS and IUD are also all more than 99% effective.

Can all women use combined contraceptive methods like the pill, patch or vaginal ring?
Combined contraceptive methods are not suitable for some women because of the oestrogen that they contain. This includes women who are aged over 35 and who smoke, women who are very overweight, women who have certain medical conditions such as migraine with aura and women who take certain medications.

Will having fewer periods on the pill, patch or vaginal ring delay or affect my future fertility?
No, having fewer periods on these hormonal contraceptive methods will not delay or affect your future fertility.

If I have fewer periods won’t they just all get ‘stored up’?
No, this is a total myth, medically speaking you don’t really need to have a period every month when taking hormonal contraceptives. Find more information on this here.

Why do we have a pill ‘period’ on the same monthly schedule as a real menstrual period?
The monthly schedule of the pill ‘period’ is man-made and not biological, and there is no medical reason for it. The reasons relate to cultural and social pressures back in the 1950s and 1960s when the pill was invented. Mimicking the natural menstrual cycle made the pill more acceptable in these early days.

Is hormonal contraception safe?
Yes it is, hormonal contraceptives have been around for over 50 years, and are used by millions of women to control their fertility. However, everybody’s body is different, some of us react in different ways. Ask your doctor to explain possible side effects and risks with you.

How can I speak to my doctor about this?
If you have any questions on contraceptive options and how to space your periods, talk to your doctor to discuss all the available options that are suitable for you. If you’d like tips on having the conversation with your doctor you can read this article.

What does reduce mean? How many periods will I have?
Depending on which contraceptive you use you can have 0, 2+, 4 or 5-13 periods a year. You can read more about this here.

I heard about a long-cycle pill… What is it? How does it differ from other pills?
A long-cycle pill is a combined oral contraceptive which contains a combination of two hormones; oestrogen and progestogen, as do many of the other pills. However, it has been developed to give fewer periods per year instead of a period every month.


Traditional pills are taken for 21 or 24 days, followed by a break for 7 or 4 days before the next pack is started. This withdrawal of hormones for a few days is responsible for the period and was designed to mimic the monthly bleeding cycle. It was thought this would make the pill more acceptable when it was marketed for the first time 60 years ago. However, there is no medical need for women on the pill to bleed every month.


Although the traditional pill allows you to delay a period (depending on whether you take 2 packs of your contraceptive back to back, stopping when you wish or until you’ve finished the second pack), the long cycle pill is designed to reduce periods, without you having to alter the prescribed dose. The most used long-cycle regimen is the quarterly one, meaning one period every 3 months, so 4 periods a year. There is also a flexible regimen which induces your period every 4 months, or how often you choose.  You can read more about this here.