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How one doctor recommends a contraceptive pill

Photo of boxes of different brands of contraceptive pillsIn the UK, nearly a quarter of women aged 16–49 are regular pill users – it’s a popular form of contraception.

There are many pills available and all are very effective. Combined oral contraceptive (COC) pills are over 99% effective and the progesterone only pill (POP) or ‘mini pill‘ is 97% effective – so which one is right for you?

My first consideration is one of practicality. Pills must be taken regularly. For those who work shifts, live between more than one place, are chaotic or prone to forgetfulness, the pill may not be reliable. The COC has more leeway regards missed pills as well as being more effective than the POP, so is usually chosen unless there are specific reasons not to. Read in full

UK prices for morning after pill: is there an alternative?


morning after pill prices headlines

News articles over the weekend (7-8 May 2016) revealed that women in the UK are paying an astonishing five times more for the morning after pill than those in other European countries.

Experts have also expressed outrage at the hoops that must be jumped through to get the drug, calling on the government to make it available off the shelf, as well as reduce the price. Unlike in France, Scandinavia, and the United States, the pill is not available without a consultation; women are required to undergo a consultation and discuss their sex lives with a pharmacist or doctor in order to access the time-sensitive emergency contraception.

High costs and a difficult process to obtain the morning after pill have resulted in what Anne Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service calls a framework that is “insulting, expensive and does not meet women’s needs”, according to The Independent. Read in full

Missed a Pill? Here’s what to do

missed contraceptive pill‘The pill’ is a very effective form of contraception – but only when taken correctly! Alas it’s one of those medications that is subject to user error, and in this case missing a pill can have a profound effect on your life.

Women (and couples) in this predicament are usually searching for instant information, and luckily there are ways to take immediate measures to get back on track with the pill and prevent pregnancy.

So without further ado, here is what to do. Just keep in mind that this information is only for the combined pill. The combined pill Qlaira works slightly differently and the rules here may not apply to you. Please see the ‘patient information leaflet’ link below. Read in full

Can I trust my contraceptive?

contraceptive failuresWe all want to trust our contraceptive but how reliable are they really? There are statistics out there but how do we interpret them?

The background level of fertility varies naturally between couples. Many forms of contraception are affected by “user reliability”. Women’s natural fertility declines from the age of 27 and men’s from age 60, so there are lots of factors to consider. Statistics often quote a figure for “consistent and correct” use (often from clinical trials) but these are often very different from “typical” use, which is a more helpful figure to most people. Read in full

Importance of annual pill checks

pill check nurse

Pill-checks – NHS requirements

Routine medical care for women taking the oral contraceptive pill includes annual check-ups with a doctor or nurse. During these check-ups, blood pressure and weight are normally measured and a cervical smear will be carried out, if it is due.

Enquiries will be made to see if the pill being taken is still the best contraception option, and whether changes need to be made, because of side effects, symptoms such as irregular or difficult periods, or simply because of increasing age. Women over 35 often prefer a mini-pill (progesterone only), and women over 35 years who smoke should not normally take a combined pill (pill containing oestrogen).

Some women are at higher risk and may need pill checks more frequently than 12 months. This applies to women with a history of high blood pressure or diabetes, women who have had previous problems with the pill and women with co-existing medical problems. Read in full

Next Generation Condoms

graphene condomsOne of the biggest complaints about condoms – and the primary reason men are reluctant to use them – is that they affect the sensation of intercourse and diminish the sexual pleasure.

However, a breakthrough material – graphene – could pave the way to silencing those prophylactic naysayers with a new-and-improved condom that’s stronger, thinner and safer than their current counterparts.

The University of Manchester has received a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant to the tune of $100,000 (£62,123) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The money will be used to develop a new synthesis of nano-materials to create the range of next generation condoms. Read in full

ellaOne

EllaOne (ulipristal acetate 30mg) is a newly available morning after pill with an advantage. The only previously available morning after pill, Levonelle, must be taken within 3 days of intercourse. EllaOne can be taken up to 5 days after intercourse.

EllaOne is as effective as Levonelle within the first 3 days, and crucially remains effective within a further 2 days. EllaOne is a prescription only medicine and is available from Dr Fox. Read in full