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Contraceptive pill

What is a contraceptive pill?

Medication that reduces the risk of pregnancy and may reduce severity of periods.

It's also known as Combined pill, Progestogen-only pill, or desogestrel.

The same hormones used in the contraceptive pill are also used as part of hormone replacement therapy; see oestrogen, progesterone.

What does a contraceptive pill do?

How long does a contraceptive pill last?

The effects of the pill last for as long as you take the pill. The pill may take up to a week to take effect depending on the point in the menstrual cycle you start taking it.

What should I be aware of?


Many contraceptive pills contain oestrogen which can interfere with testosterone treatment. If you are using testosterone, ask your doctor for a “progesterone-only” contraceptive pill as this will not have this effect 1.

Combining contraceptive pills with the use of barrier methods such as a condom will reduce the risk of pregnancy even further than using the contraceptive pill alone.

Are there other options?

Other options that can also be used while taking testosterone include contraceptive injections, a contraceptive implant, and most types of IUD 1.

If you are not using testosterone, other options also include contraceptive patches and vaginal rings. You can read more about what types of contraception are right for you on the Contraception Choices website.

How do I get contraceptive pills?

You can ask for the contraceptive pill at most GP surgeries, sexual health clinics, and GUM clinics. You may wish to ask specifically for the progestogen-only pill (POP) if you are taking testosterone, or if you do not want to take pills containing oestrogen.

How much does it cost?

The contraceptive pill is available for free at an NHS GP surgery, sexual health, or GUM clinic.

Where can I learn more?

You can read more on the NHS website about the progestogen-only pill and the combined contraceptive pill.

You can find more information specifically for transgender and non-binary people on the FSRH website.


  1. 1.
    FSRH Clinical Effectiveness Unit (2017) “Contraceptive Choices and Sexual Health for Transgender and Non-binary People.” Link


This page is illustrated using a photograph by Thought Catalog available at Unsplash.

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