With over 15 types available, knowing which method of contraception to use can be difficult. One of the most popular options is the contraceptive pill – but did you know that there are different versions to choose from?

Each type of contraceptive pill is slightly different, so before you start using one, it’s important that you’re clued up. You can find out more about these methods of birth control by speaking to your doctor, or you can refer to trusted online sources such as LloydsPharmacy.

To help you get your head around the basics in the meantime, keep reading…

The mini pill

The mini contains progesterone, and it works by making the mucus in the womb thicker so that the sperm cannot penetrate it to reach the egg. There are also versions that can stop ovulation altogether.

It’s important to note that the mini pill is usually required to be taken at the exact same time every day. If you are three hours late in taking it, you’ll need to use extra contraceptive protection, such as a condom.

One of the most common side effects of the mini pill is irregular bleeding. This is usually light and settles down after about three months of taking it. It’s thought to be a suitable option for women who aren’t able to use contraception that contains oestrogen, such as those who have high blood pressure or a history of blood clots.

The combined pill

Also known as ‘the pill’, the combined pill contains artificial versions of two hormones – oestrogen and progesterone. It works by temporarily preventing ovulation, as well as thickening the mucus at the entrance of the womb and thinning the lining of the womb itself. As a result, it’s harder for the sperm to reach the womb, and it also means that there is less chance of a fertilised egg becoming implanted.

The combined pill is designed to be taken daily, and to ensure you are fully protected, you should take it at the same time each day. If used correctly, it can be over 99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy.

This pill may be a good fit for you if you suffer with particularly heavy periods as it can make them lighter. However, it’s important to note that it may not be suitable if you have certain health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

The low dose pill

Like the combined pill, the low dose pill contains oestrogen and progesterone – except in smaller amounts. It works in a similar way too in that it stops the eggs from being released. This means the eggs are less likely to become fertilised, therefore preventing pregnancy.

This pill is to be taken every day, however some versions involve taking a seven day pill-free break each month.

Since the hormones in the low dose pill are reduced, the side effects can be minimised. It’s also worth noting that this pill has a higher rate of irregular bleeding, meaning that it may not be suitable for some women.

For more information about your contraception options, why not check out the ‘Talking Health’ digital magazine from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor?