Oral Contraception (“the pill”) is a tablet containing female hormones that is taken in order to prevent pregnancy. There are two types of oral contraceptive pills; the combined oral contraceptive pill (COC) and the progestogen-only pill (POP). There are a number of different types of pills available, which contain different amounts of hormones depending on the particular pill.
Your contraceptive pill must be taken every 24 hours and it’s better to take it early rather than late 1. If you are travelling between different time zones and the time difference means you would have to take your pill in the middle of the night, take it before you go to bed instead of in the morning.
You could also take a second watch and set it to the time back home to help you stick to your normal pill-taking routine. Alternatively, you could calculate the time difference and set a repeat reminder in your phone for the correct time to take it.
Another option is to adjust to your travel destination’s time. Say, for instance, that your destination is 6 hours behind the time at home and that you normally take the pill at 7pm. Six days before you leave, start taking your pill an hour earlier each day. On your day of departure, you’ll be taking the medication at 1pm. Once on board, adjust your watch forward to the destination time and the next time you take a pill it will be 7pm – your normal time back home. All you have to do is remember to take your pill as usual.
Ensure that when travelling, you take sufficient quantities of your pill and your regular medication in their original packaging to cover your trip and any short delays.
Is Deep Vein Thrombosis more of a risk if you are taking the pill when travelling?
The use of any combined oral contraceptive increases the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) 1.
VTE is a condition that includes both deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein—usually in the leg or pelvic veins2-3. Prolonged and temporary immobilisation such as long-haul flights of more than 4 hours, can increase the risk of DVT particularly in women with other risk factors 5.
To avoid the potential for DVT when flying, exercise your lower legs regularly while seated and take frequent walks in the cabin. Try to secure an aisle seat so you can get up and move about the cabin more frequently. You should avoid taking sleeping pills. Properly fitted graduated compression stockings will reduce the potential for DVT among those at higher risk, including women taking the pill.
The benefits of Oral Contraceptive Use
Taking an oral contraceptive pill is a convenient and reliable method of avoiding unintended pregnancies. It is a highly effective, well tolerated, and safe method of contraception.
The oral contraceptive pill is up to 99% effective when taken correctly1. It is also a reversible form of contraception, where you can become pregnant quickly after discontinuing use if you wish.
But the pill can also offer additional benefits:
Lowers risk of some cancers
When you are taking the combined oral contraceptive pill, your risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer is reduced 2-3. Studies have found that there is a slightly increased risk of breast cancer in women currently using either combined oral contraceptives or the progestogen only pill however the risk gradually disappears after you stop taking the pill 2-3.
Lighter, less painful periods
Taking a combined oral contraceptive pill can reduce the severity of painful periods. When you are on the pill you don’t ovulate, therefore the period you get during the pill free week is not a period. It is known as a withdrawal bleed, which can be lighter, shorter and less painful than your regular period2-3.
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome Relief
Hormone changes during the menstrual cycle are the biggest contributing factor to many of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). While there is no cure for PMS, the combined oral contraceptive pill has been shown to be effective in treating and improving symptoms of PMS in some women.2-3
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that causes painful periods or heavy periods. There is no cure for endometriosis, and it can be difficult to treat, however combined oral contraception has been shown to ease the symptoms so that the condition does not interfere with your daily life.
Control Your Periods
The combined oral contraceptive pill can be used to regulate your menstrual cycle if you experience irregular or unpredictable periods. The combined oral contraceptive pill makes irregular or unpredictable periods occur on a monthly basis through the withdrawal bleed (which takes place during the pill free interval), allowing you to plan and expect your period every 4 weeks
Your Sexual Health
- Sexual health is an important part of your overall health. Having knowledge and skills about your sexual health can help you make informed sexual choices and act responsibly to protect your health and the health of others.1
- Taking a few precautions can help protect you against contracting or transmitting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) to your partner(s).
- While using hormonal contraceptives can help to prevent unintended pregnancy, taking the pill does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections. It is important to use condoms in addition to taking the pill to ensure you protect yourself.1 If used correctly, condoms protect against most STIs1.
Missed Pill Advice
Have you missed a Pill?
The specific advice you need will depend on which contraceptive medication you are taking.
For Missed Pill advice on Zoely click here.
Alternatively, please contact your Health Care Professional for advice on what to do if you miss a Pill.
What are Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?
STIs are infections, caused by specific bacteria and viruses, that are passed on from an infected partner(s) during unprotected sex (including vaginal, anal & oral sex and genital contact with an infected partner).1
Will I Have Symptoms?
Most STIs have no obvious symptoms, so you may not be aware that you or your partner(s) are infected. All STIs can be managed with medication, and most can be cured.1
Do I need to get tested?
The only way to really know you have an STI is to get tested. 1 If you have a new partner, it is a good idea for both of you to have an STI test before having sex without a condom. You may not have any symptoms, or even know you have an STI.
How do I reduce the risk of contracting an STI?
- Ensure your partner uses condoms correctly
- Limit the number of partners you have – the more partners you have, the greater the chance of coming into contact with an infected person
- Talk to your partners about STIs & practicing safe sex
- Get regular sexual health check-ups including STI screening, smear tests & being breast aware
Further information is available from the following sources:
- Start by taking your pill in the morning, so you have more time to remember to take it during the day in case you forget in the morning
- Link it with an activity you automatically do in the morning, like brushing your teeth, washing your face or having breakfast- this way it will become part of your routine
- Keep your pill pack in your purse or on your bedside table to have a constant reminder to take your pill at the same time every day
Please check back soon, as our content is updated regularly.
1 – Zoely SmPC – available at www.medicines.ie
2 – Zoely PIL- available at www.medicines.ie,
3 -Desogestrel 75mcg www.hpra.ie
4 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC261739/ Last Accessed 30/01/2023
5- http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Premenstrual-syndrome/Pages/Causes.aspx Last Accessed 30/01/2023
6 – https://www.sexualwellbeing.ie/sexual-health/ Last Accessed 30/01/2023
The information on this website is intended for Republic of Ireland residents only
Date of Preparation February 2023