A New Way to Take Your Combined Pill: Continuous Pill Taking
This is a way of taking the pill without taking a regular ‘pill free break’ (of 7 days off after every 21 days of pill), during which you would usually have a bleed. Although this is an ‘off licence’ prescription, which means that the instructions are different from those recommended by the manufacturer, there is evidence that continuous pill taking is safe and it is supported by medical authorities in the UK (FSRH).
What are the benefits?
There is a lot of evidence that taking the pill continuously makes your pill a more effective contraceptive and you do not need to have a bleed every month. Other potential problems may also be reduced such a period pain, PMT, Migraine and other headaches. It is also convenient if you wish to avoid a bleed whilst on holiday/for special occasions.
Isn’t it better to have a bleed every month?
Continuous pill taking is very safe and you do not need to bleed every month. The ‘period’ on the pill is entirely artificial and occurs due to stopping the pill (and therefore the hormones) for a few days- a ‘hormone withdrawal bleed’.
What happens if I get bleeding while taking the pill continuously?
Irregular bleeding and/or ’spotting’ during the first months of contraception, including continuous pill taking, can occur, but most women find this lessens over time.
If the bleeding is troublesome to you, e.g. continues for more than a few days, and has not settled after at least a month since you first started the pill,; stop taking tablets for just 4 days.
Unless you also missed other tablets for any reason in the previous week, there is no need to take extra precautions when you take a 4 day break. Then restart your pill taking the correct pill for that day, leaving out the 4 unused pills. Continue as before. If you find this 4-day break does not stop or improve the bleeding, seek advice from your clinic in case you need a check-up to exclude other causes of bleeding e.g. a sexually transmitted infection.