There are two main types of oral contraceptive pills: those that contain two hormones - an oestrogen and a progestogen - and these are called combined oral contraceptive (COC) pills, and those that contain only one hormone - a progestogen - and these are called progestogen-only pills (POPs) or mini pills.
Combined pills include Adele, Yaz, Yasmin, Yasminelle, Mercilon, Nelya, Vreya, and Qlaria.
Mini pills are Lamya and Cerazette.
Both types of contraceptive pills require a prescription in Malta, though mini pills have recently become prescription-free in some countries such as the UK.
Here are the main differences between the two types of pill:
Combined pills are more forgiving if you forget to take a pill. If you use combined pills you are normally still protected against pregnancy if you miss one dose, but with mini pills you will be at risk of pregnancy even if you miss one pill.
Combined pills require a 7 or 4 day hormone-free break each month, during which you get a period, whereas mini pills are taken without a break.
You are more likely to get irregular periods and spotting with mini pills than with combined pills.
Combined pills, unless they are started on the first day of the period, take 7 days to protect you against pregnancy (9 days in the case of Qlaria). Mini pills take 48 hours to protect you against pregnancy.
Mini pills do not contain the hormone oestrogen, and can therefore safely be used by women who cannot take oestrogen and therefore cannot take combined pills. These include women who are over 35 years old and smoke, women with a history of blood clots.