Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills

Combined oral contraceptive pills

Caring Since 2005

What is the combined oral contraceptive pill? | Oral Contraceptives Singapore

The combined oral contraceptive pill, commonly known as the birth control pill, is a pill which contains 2 synthetic types of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) and is taken on a daily basis to prevent unplanned pregnancy. 

There are various brands/formulations available on the market and they differ slightly in terms of the type of synthetic estrogen or progesterone they contain, but work equally as well in preventing pregnancy. 

How does the combined oral contraceptive pill work?

The combined oral contraceptive pill works to prevent pregnancy through several ways. It prevents ovulation (the release of an egg by the ovaries every month), and also thickens the cervical mucus which acts as a barrier to sperm passing into the uterus. It also thins the lining of the uterus, making implantation unfavourable should fertilisation of an egg somehow occur. 

If taken consistently and correctly, the combined oral contraceptive pill is up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Who is the combined oral contraceptive pill suitable for?

The combined oral contraceptive pill is suitable for most individuals who are looking for a short-term non-barrier form of contraception. 

It may be particularly helpful for women suffering from certain conditions such as severe menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), heavy menses (menorrhagia), acne issues or premenstrual syndrome symptoms. 

However, the combined pill may not be suitable for you if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as poorly controlled high blood pressure, migraines with aura, breast or hormonal related cancers, liver or gallbladder conditions, blood clots (thrombosis) or a family history of thrombotic tendencies. It is also not ideal for smokers, especially those aged >35. 

Certain medications may also interact with and decrease the efficacy of the combined oral contraceptive pill, so you may wish to check with your doctor if you are taking any regular long term medication.


Teleconsult & Medication Delivery

We are offering DTAP Teleconsult. This teleconsult service allows our current patients and new patients to connect with our doctors during clinic operating hours for non-emergency consults.

After assessment and consultation, we will also deliver your medications straight to your doorstep!

What are some of the pros and cons of the combined oral contraceptive pill?


  • Allows for sexual spontaneity 
  • It can help ease symptoms for women with heavy or painful periods (menorrhagia or dysmenorrhea)
  • It can help with regulation of menstrual cycles and reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome 
  • Some types of the combined oral contraceptive pill can help with acne
  • Reduces the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer


  • Requires daily pill taking and individuals who miss doses frequently may not be adequately protected against unplanned pregnancy
  • It may cause various side effects (see below), but if any of these side effects become unacceptable, the pill can be stopped anytime
  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
  • It is associated with a possible increased risk of rare but serious health conditions like thrombosis (blood clots) 
  • There may be interaction between the combined oral contraceptive pill and other medications 
  • If you are unwell with vomiting or diarrhoea, the efficacy of the pill may be affected depending on the severity of your illness

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What are the side effects and risks of the combined oral contraceptive pill?

  • Bleeding or spotting in between menstrual cycles can be common, particularly in the initial starting phase 
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Mood changes or mood swings

What should I expect when I take the pill?

Most of the combined oral contraceptive pills available in Singapore are monophasic 21-day pills with a few exceptions. This means you take 21 consecutive days’ worth of hormonal pills, followed by a 7 days pill-free interval (some brands may come with 7 placebo pills which do not contain any hormones). This is to mimic the natural monthly menstrual cycle. 

You should aim to take the pill at the same time on a daily basis. Speak to your doctor if you miss a dose as the next course of action may differ depending on where in your cycle you are. 

When should I start taking the pill?

If you start on Day 1 of your menstrual cycle, you are protected against unplanned pregnancy and will not need additional barrier protection. However, if you start at any point during the rest of your menstrual cycle, particularly if it is after Day 5, you should use additional barrier protection for a week before you can safely have unprotected intercourse.

Will I still get my period while on the combined oral contraceptive pill?

You will still get your period but it is likely to be lighter than before. If you naturally have painful menstrual cycles (dysmenorrhea), you will also find that the pill will help alleviate these symptoms. 

If you wish to avoid monthly periods (for an underlying medical condition as advised by your doctor or for personal convenience), the pills can be taken continuously without a pill-free interval for longer than a month. You can also speak to your doctor about this.

Speak to us!

If you are worried about preventing an unintended pregnancy and are considering emergency contraception, you may wish to give any of our clinics a call or come down for a consultation with any of our doctors who will be glad to advise you further.

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