TOPIC

How to switch your contraceptive

by The Lowdown · Mar 17, 2022

Reviewed by Dr Melanie Davis-Hall · Mar 17, 2022

green pill packet with placebo pills
Get the lowdown on how to safely start or switch to a different contraceptive method.
  • This information can help you better understand how to safely start or switch to a different contraceptive method. It is based on guidance from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health in the UK and should never be used as substitute for medical advice ⚠️
  • You should always consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns 🙏
  • If contraception is not used correctly there is always a potential risk of pregnancy, even if the actions suggested below are followed

So you’ve gone through all our contraception reviews, had some advice from our women’s health doctors and you’re now ready to make the switch. We wish it could be simple, but, as with everything contraception related it can be complicated. We also recognise that switching between methods can be a risky time for contraceptive failure and is not often explained well. To make sure you’re starting or switching your contraceptive safely and to keep protected against pregnancy – follow the tables below.

We haven’t included advice for switching to implant or coils for the moment. When you have an implant or coil fitted or removed, your healthcare professional should explain to you how to ensure you remain protected against pregnancy when starting or switching methods. We recommend discussing this with your healthcare provider when you book the implant or coil appointment, or in the pre-fitting phone call. If your injection is late or your implant or coil has expired, it is important to use condoms until you switch methods.

Starting contraception for the first time or after a break from contraception

Current SitchStarting on  
Combined pill, patch or ringProgestogen only pillInjection
You're in the first 5 days of your periodYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
Any other time in your cycle **as long as you've not had unprotected sex (without a condom) since your last period** OR **if you don't have periods, as long as you've not had unprotected sex (without a condom) in the last 3 weeks and a pregnancy test is negative before you start the contraceptive**Start and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
If you have had unprotected sex (without a condom) since your last period OR if you don't have periods, if you have had unprotected sex in the last 3 weeks.

In this case, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional, as you may require emergency contraception.
Start and use condoms for 7 days

Check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Start and use condoms for 2 days

Check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Ideally, use a more short term contraceptive such as a pill or condoms for the next 3 weeks. This is to allow you to check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks time, before you start a longterm contraceptive like the injection.

OR

Start and use condoms for 7 days and check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks

Switching from the combined pill, ring or patch to another method.

NB: This is only accurate if you have taken the method correctly with no missed pills, patches or rings in the last month.

TOP TIP: the easiest way to switch is to continue using your combined contraceptive for at least 7 days before making the change.

The Lowdown offer all kinds of contraception methods available to buy, including birth control pills like Yasmin, as well as mini pills like Hana, vaginal rings, hormone patches and more.

Current SitchSwitching to  
Combined pill, patch or ringProgestogen only pillInjection
If you've taken your combined pill, patch or ring for the previous 7 days in a rowYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
If you're in the first or second day of a breakYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
If you're on day 3 to 7 of your break and you have NOT had unprotected sex (without a condom) since the start of the breakStart and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
If you're on day 3 to 7 of your break and you HAVE had unprotected sex (without a condom) since the start of the breakKeep using the pill, patch or ring correctly for another 7 days in a row, then you can make a switch and be protected straight away
If you're in the 1st week after a break and you have NOT had unprotected sex (without a condom) since the start of the breakStart and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
If you're in the 1st week after a break and you HAVE had unprotected sex (without a condom) since the start of the breakKeep using the pill, patch or ring correctly for another 7 days in a row, then you can make a switch and be protected straight away

Switching from progestogen only methods

NB: This is only accurate if you have taken the method correctly with no missed pills.

TOP TIP: If you’re thinking of having the hormonal coil removed and switching to another method, start the new method 7 days BEFORE the hormonal coil is removed. This is safe, and means you can be protected as soon as the coil is removed. If you don’t start a new method before it is taken out, then avoid sex for the 7 days before your removal appointment.

Current SitchSwitching to  
Combined pill, patch or ringProgestogen only pillInjection
Traditional progestogen only pills (Noregeston, Noriday or Micronor)Start and use condoms for 7 daysYou're protected and good to goStart and use condoms for 7 days
Desogestrel progestogen only pill (Desogestrel, Cerazette, Cerelle)You're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
Implant (if you have had it for less than 3 years)You're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
Injection (only if it has been less than 14 weeks since your last injection)You're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
Injection (if you are over 14 weeks since your injection but have NOT had sex or have USED CONDOMS since the date you were due to have the injection)Start and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
Injection (if you are over 14 weeks since your injection but HAVE had sex WITHOUT a condom since the date you were due to have the injection)


In this case, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional, as you may require emergency contraception.
Start and use condoms for 7 days

Check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Start and use condoms for 2 days

Check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Ideally, use a more short term contraceptive such as a pill or condoms for the next 3 weeks. This is to allow you to check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks time, before you start a longterm contraceptive.

OR

Start and use condoms for 7 days and check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Hormonal coil (only if you have NOT had sex or have USED CONDOMS in the 7 days before switching to a new method and having it removed)Start and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
Hormonal coil (if you HAVE had sex WITHOUT a condom in the 7 days before switching to a new method)Keep the hormonal coil in for 7 days after starting the new method - rebook the removal appointment

Switching from the copper coil

TOP TIP: If you’re having your copper coil removed, you can start a hormonal method while it is still in. If you have used the hormonal method for 7 days before removal, you’re protected against pregnancy straight away. If you are not starting a hormonal method, avoid sex or use condoms for the 7 days before the copper coil is removed.

Current SitchSwitching toSwitching toSwitching to
Combined pill, patch or ringProgestogen only pillInjection
If you're in days 1 to 5 of your periodYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to goYou're protected and good to go
If you are after day 5 of your period and you have NOT had unprotected sex (without a condom) in the last 7 daysStart and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
If you are after day 5 of your period and you HAVE had unprotected sex (without a condom) in the last 7 daysKeep the copper coil in for 7 days after starting the new method - rebook the removal appointment

Incorrect use of contraceptive

This is if you’ve missed some pills, been late with your patch, pill or injection or your implant or coil has expired

Current SitchSwitching to  
Combined pill, patch or ringProgestogen only pillInjection
You have NOT had unprotected sex (without a condom) in the last 3 weeks AND your current pregnancy test is negativeStart and use condoms for 7 daysStart and use condoms for 2 daysStart and use condoms for 7 days
You HAVE had unprotected sex (without a condom) in the last 3 weeks AND your current pregnancy test is negative

In this case, we recommend speaking to a healthcare professional, as you may require emergency contraception.
Start and use condoms for 7 days

Check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Start and use condoms for 2 days

Check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Ideally, use a more short term contraceptive such as a pill for the next 3 weeks. This is to allow you to check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks time, before you start a longterm contraceptive like the injection.

OR

Start and use condoms for 7 days and check a pregnancy test in 3 weeks
Tags
  1. Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH), Switching or starting methods of contraception.