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What Are the Best Forms of Birth Control?

Posted Thursday 30 January 2020 08:00 by in Women's Medication by Harman Bhamra

Women have more birth control options than ever before, but with more choice comes more information; not to mention more side effects to be aware of.

It can be difficult to know which birth control option is right for you. Before seeking out a new method of birth control, it’s a good idea to discuss the options with your GP or do plenty of research into your options. This will help to outline the types of birth control available to you based on your requirements and other factors such as lifestyle, your current health or other medications you are on.

There are many types of female contraception to be aware of, from birth control pills to condoms and hormonal implants. While no single method can completely guarantee pregnancy prevention, if used correctly, these methods can help minimise the chances of having an unwanted pregnancy. We’ve compiled a list of the best forms of birth control and the pros and cons of each method.

What Is Birth Control?

Birth control is any method used to prevent pregnancy. There are pros and cons to every method of contraception, and some are more effective than others. It’s important to understand this in order to make an informed decision on what is best for you.

The Best Types of Birth Control For Women

From IUDs and implants to hormone shots and the rhythm method, the choice can be overwhelming. But effectiveness is key when deciding what birth control to use and the following contraceptive devices are some of the most successful at preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Birth Control Pills

Birth control pills are one of the most popular methods of contraception for women, as they are convenient and offer a range of other benefits besides preventing pregnancy.

Express Pharmacy’s female contraception range includes several oral contraceptive brands to suit different needs and budgets, including Yasmin birth control and the Microgynon pill.

Yasmin birth control is a combined pill and is typically prescribed to women under the age of 35. If used correctly, it’s up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy and works by preventing ovulation and altering the lining of the uterine wall.

The Microgynon pill is well-suited to women who have not used birth control pills before – it contains two hormones, similar to oestrogen and progesterone.

Benefits of birth control pills: The benefits of birth control pills are that if you use them properly, there is just a 1% failure rate. Not only this, but they help to relieve painful menstrual cramps and prevent heavy periods.

Cons of birth control pills: The potential downsides of the pill are that if you forget to take it regularly, the failure rate is much higher. This is especially key if you’re taking a progestin-only pill as this needs to be taken at the same time every day. Birth control pills can also cause nausea, breast tenderness and a low sex drive for some women.

Condoms

Condoms are a birth control mainstay; with good reason. They not only prevent pregnancy but are the only contraceptive device that also prevents sexually transmitted infections, too.

There are both male and female condoms on the market, but male condoms are much more commonly used. Condoms can also be used with spermicides to increase the effectiveness of the contraceptive.

Benefits of condoms: The benefits of condoms are that they are the best method of protection against STDs and HIV, and they are also convenient and easy to use.

Cons of condoms: However, male condoms are only around 82% effective in preventing pregnancy and female condoms are just 79% effective. Because of the high failure rate, it’s advised that condoms are used with another form of birth control.

Hormone Implants

Hormone implants are an increasingly popular option for women as they require less maintenance. A small matchstick-sized piece of plastic is inserted by a GP just under the skin of the upper arm and prevents pregnancy for up to three years without needing to be removed in the meantime.

Benefits of hormone implants: One benefit of hormone implants is that the method is invisible and is as effective as an IUD, with less than 1 in 100 women getting pregnant with this method in place. What’s more, if you choose to get pregnant in the future, you can still become pregnant after having the implant removed.

Cons of hormone implants: The downside of the hormone implant is that many women experience irregular bleeding for the first year, although most women stop having periods altogether eventually on this method. If you are bothered by the irregular bleeding, your GP can prescribe oestrogen to counteract this.

Conclusion

In addition to learning about the pros and cons of each method, it’s important to consider other factors that might inhibit the effectiveness of your chosen form of birth control. For example, you need to speak to your GP about or consider the following:

  • What to do if you get sick when you’re on the pill
  • The right contraception to use after having a baby
  • Managing your menstrual cycle on different methods
  • Which is the right choice based on lifestyle factors (family medical history, weight, age)

All of these, and more, can influence the right contraceptive device for your needs. The types of birth control listed in this guide are just a few of the options available to women today – there are also hormone injections, caps or diaphragms, vaginal rings and fertility awareness methods. Each one provides different benefits and considerations to carefully take into account before you adopt a particular method.

For more information regarding the right birth control method for you, get in touch with our specialists on 0208 123 0703. Or, browse our female contraception methods by browsing the ‘treatments’ on our menu.

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What the Location of Your Headache Can Tell You

Posted Monday 27 January 2020 09:00 by in Migraines by Harman Bhamra

It’s common for most people to suffer from the occasional headache, but when it comes to migraines, an estimated 1 in 7 people suffer. This guide will provide you with information on what the location of your headache can tell you, including ways to effectively treat migraines.

What Is The Difference Between a Headache and a Migraine?

Both headaches and migraines are defined as ‘continuous pains in the head’. However, while the underlying symptoms may be similar, migraines are far more severe and last far longer.

The extreme pains which come from migraines initially start as a throbbing feeling (similar to a headache). From here, a migraine sufferer may begin to feel nauseous, start vomiting and become sensitive to light/sound.

What Types Of Headache Are There?

There are several different types of headaches and migraines to be aware of, and the location of the ache plays an important part in distinguishing the type. Headache and migraine pains typically occur in any of the following:

  • Face
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Eyes
  • Temples

Read on to discover what the location of your headache can tell you.

Pain Around/Behind The Eyes

Pain behind, in or around the eye can indicate that you are suffering from cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are given their name due to recurring frequently over several weeks or months, typically only on one side of the head. They can be very painful and often translate into migraines when the symptoms become more severe.

The pains from cluster headaches can move to other regions, such as…

  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Temples
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

Other symptoms of cluster headaches can include…

  • A runny or bunged-up nose
  • Nausea/sickness
  • Sensitivity to light/sounds

On average, these headaches can last from half an hour to several hours and, in some cases, can stick around for up to three days.

Please note: It is also common for cluster headaches to make the eye appear red, droopy, teary or swollen.

Pain In Your Neck

The majority of people suffering from migraines experience neck pains, yet people often dismiss the idea that they may be linked. Migraines and neck pains can be triggered by many factors, with the following being most common:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Diet
  • Alcohol

Paying attention to the above triggers and actively working to keep them under control may reduce your risk of suffering from a migraine and associated neck pain.

Tension On Your Scalp

A tension headache is generally identified by having scalp discomfort; somewhat like a tightening feeling.

Tension headaches differ from other types of headache as they can often cause pressure-like pain on both sides of your head (other head pains generally stick to one side). You may also experience pain in the following areas with a tension headache:

  • Forehead
  • Temples
  • Back of the head
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

Stress is a big factor when it comes to tension headaches, but muscle and joint pain can also trigger them, too. It is not uncommon for tension headaches to become chronic, and if this is the case, it is recommended to use specialised medication for migraine relief or prevention.

Painful Sinuses

A sinus headache is another form of a tension headache/migraine. Pain around your eyes, across your nose and around your cheeks can signify this type of headache, often giving the feeling as though constant pressure is being applied. The pain can be made more severe through exercising, sudden activity or leaning down/upside down.

These pains can be an indication of a minor sinus disease which would require a visit to the doctors, but if this is the case, you would also be experiencing…

  • Plugged Ears
  • Swollen face
  • Fever
  • Nasal mucus

How To Get Rid Of a Headache

It is always advised to seek a doctor if any head pain becomes chronic, disabling, begins to impair your vision or causes seizures.

If you suffer from consistent migraines and are seeking treatment, there are numerous options available.

Lifestyle Changes

In terms of preventing migraines, the following lifestyle changes are recommended:

  • Staying clear of high-fat or salty foods
  • Getting a full night sleep
  • Avoiding severe stress

Migraine Medication

There are also many migraine treatments that can keep everything under control. Express Pharmacy offers numerous fast-acting medication options that will help you to win your battle against migraines.

Imigran Nasal Spray allows you to treat your pain quickly, without the need for oral medication and so is beneficial to those who have difficulty swallowing pills. Imigran Nasal Spray eases pressure in your brain to aid your discomfort; this is easy to have in your bag or at work to ensure you can treat migraines as soon as they appear.

Alternatively, Sumatriptan 50mg is a more affordable method to treat your pains quickly and effectively. This medication doesn’t just stop the pain of your migraine, but it works to help reverse the changes made in your brain that cause your attacks; while simultaneously treating your symptoms.

Live a Migraine-Free Life

Headaches and migraines are often unpredictable, but by analysing the symptoms and locating the pain, you can actively work to reduce the symptoms. Get in touch with our pharmaceutical experts on 0208 123 0703 if you require more guidance.

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True or False: Are These Real Migraine Cures?

Posted Friday 24 January 2020 09:44 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

Despite being such a common health concern, there are still many uncertainties surrounding migraines

Migraines impact as many as 1 billion people worldwide, making them the third most prevalent illness in the world.[1] Yet despite this, there is a lot of misinformation spread about migraines, and this can leave people confused by the condition even if they suffer from it themselves.

We’re going to take a closer look at all things migraines, exploring whether some of the most common migraine ‘cures’ stand up to scrutiny.

What are migraines?

Contrary to popular belief, a migraine is more than just a headache. It is a severe bout of head pain which is usually concentrated in one side of the head. Migraines can also cause further symptoms such as sickness, nausea and increased sensitivity to light or sound.[2]

How do migraines appear?

There is no single cause for migraines, as every case is different and comes with its own ‘triggers’. These can include lack of food, alcohol, hormonal changes, environmental changes, lack of sleep and stress, among others.[3]

In general, migraines are caused by the activation of a mechanism in the brain which releases pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.[4]

Because causes of migraines are difficult to pin down, determining concrete cures for migraines can be equally tricky.

Are these real migraine cures?

There is no cure

TRUE AND FALSE

It is true that there is no set cure for every migraine. But this doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.

Less than 5% of people living with migraines actually seek out treatment or the advice of a headache specialist.[5] So while a one-size-fits-all cure is difficult to determine, bear in mind that there are plenty of measures to put in place which may work for you.

For example, migraine patients are often suffering from co-occurring conditions such as obesity, hypertension or anxiety. In these instances, treating these conditions can alleviate migraine symptoms.[6]

Light and temperature control

TRUE

Sensory sensitivity is one of the most common migraine symptoms, so it’s no surprise that reducing your exposure to harsh lights, noises and temperatures can help ease your pain. Many people find that lying down in a quiet, dark and cool space can reduce the length and severity of a migraine attack.

Creating a sleep routine

TRUE

There is a clear relationship between how well you sleep and whether or not you suffer from migraines. Both sleep loss and oversleeping are common headache triggers, while regular, good quality sleep has been shown to result in fewer headaches.[7] Creating a bedtime routine you can stick to every day can be an effective way of reducing your symptoms.

Following a strict diet

FALSE

While there is a relationship between food and headaches, it’s more about what you’re not eating as opposed to what you are eating. Many people like to blame their migraines on particular foods, such as chocolate, but actually the most common food-related migraine cause is failing to eat altogether. For this reason, following a strict diet can often do more harm than good. There is no migraine diet, but missing meals is a well-established migraine trigger.[8]

It changes for everyone

TRUE

As we mentioned earlier, there are many migraine triggers and these can vary between sufferers. This is part of the reason why it is difficult to determine a single cure for migraines. When the cause changes, so does the cure. In order to alleviate your migraines, you need to identify your own triggers and take steps to avoid them.

Medication

TRUE
There is indeed medication that is safe and effective in its treatment of migraines and cluster headaches.

Popular medication options like sumatriptan have been proven through rigorous research to be an effective means of reducing migraine symptoms. In one trial, 74% of migraine sufferers found that their symptoms had significantly decreased after 15 minutes of taking sumatriptan, compared to just 26% of placebo patients.[9]

Find safe and effective migraine relief treatment right here at Express Pharmacy. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0208 123 07 03. You can also contact us using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine statistics. 2020

[2] NHS UK. Migraine. 2019

[3] The Migraine Trust. More than “just a headache”. 2019

[4] World Health Organisation. Headache disorders. 2016

[5] Hribar, C. Migraine Statistics. Migraine.com. 2019

[6] Rosenberg, J. Migraine has an impact on both healthcare costs and lost productivity. American Journal of Managed Care. 2019

[7] American Migraine Foundation. How Sleep Disorders Interact with Headache and Migraine. 2019

[8] Afridi, S. PhD. Food and diet. The Migraine Trust. 2016

[9] Ekbom, K. MD. et al. Treatment of acute cluster headache with sumatriptan. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1991

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Top 6 Foods Known for Causing Heartburn

Posted Friday 24 January 2020 08:45 by in Acid Reflux by Harman Bhamra

Heartburn is an extremely common condition which affects up to 25% of UK adults regularly. The symptoms of heartburn can cause extreme amounts of discomfort and disrupt everyday life.

What Is Acid Reflux/Heartburn?

Heartburn is a fairly painful burning sensation which forms in your lower chest. It is caused by acid reflux - acid reflux is when stomach acid is forced up into your oesophagus (the pipe in which your food/drink travels down from your mouth to your stomach). This is not usually possible as your sphincter acts as a barrier to avoid this acid escaping, so when it does happen, heartburn takes place.

Usually, unless you burp or swallow, your sphincter stays shut. Those that suffer from acid reflux often have a weakened sphincter and so it opens on other occasions and allows acid to get out, leading to heartburn.

Top 6 Foods Known For Causing Heartburn

Diet is the number one culprit for heartburn as many foods can cause your sphincter to relax, allowing those pesky acids and foods to escape into the oesophagus. But what foods are best to avoid when trying to prevent heartburn?

Here are the top 6 foods that have been linked to heartburn, and if you suffer from acid reflux, you should steer clear of them!

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is likely to be the last thing you wanted to read on this list, but unfortunately, it is a common trigger of heartburn. The cocoa in the chocolate can increase serotonin levels, which can relax your sphincter and allow acid to sneak up your oesophagus; you don’t want that!

As well as boosting serotonin, chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine. Now we all know what caffeine is, but theobromine is a bitter compound that is found in cocoa and is therefore in chocolate. Both of these can also stimulate your sphincter to relax. Yet another reason to avoid chocolate!

A tiny bit of chocolate will unlikely affect you, but if you do suffer from acid reflux, avoid dark chocolate at all costs. Dark chocolate contains high levels of cocoa.

2. Spicy Foods

Put that takeaway menu back in the draw! Curry, chilli or any spicy foods are infamous causes of heartburn as more often than not they contain capsaicin which has been known to slow digestion rate.

As well as digestion issues, capsaicin is a compound that irritates tissue it comes into contact with and so can inflame your oesophagus, worsening heartburn. And so, it is best to take a step back from anything with a kick.

3. Onions

As well as saving you from bad breath, excluding raw onions from your diet will help you to reduce heartburn. Much like other foods, onions can cause you to burp/belch frequently which, as we know, opens your sphincter and could allow acid to escape in the process.

Burping/belching is caused as onions are rich in fermentable fibre, which exasperates acid reflux symptoms. Beans and legumes are also sources of this fibre and so it is also best to limit intake of those as well.

4. Mint

Unlike other foods, mint does not lead to heartburn through relaxing the sphincter. Instead, mint has been known to irritate the oesophagus lining.

It was often thought that mint helped digestion but has since been linked to the opposite. Peppermint tea and other forms of mint are putting those that consume them at a higher risk, so best to avoid it, just to be on the safe side.

5. Fatty Foods

Foods that have high-fat content are a risk to multiple aspects of your health and acid reflux is no exception. And we’re not just talking about fast-food or unhealthy snacks. Healthier produce such as avocados, cheese and nuts all have high-fat content, too!

These fatty foods can lead to the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin, which relaxes your sphincter and causes food to sit in your stomach for longer than usual. This also increases the risk of heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

6. Salt

Again, salt has a bad reputation when it comes to your health. Adding salt as a seasoning to your meals or eating foods that have a high salt content can boost the chances of you experiencing acid reflux symptoms by 50%. With such a high figure, it’s best to limit your intake.

Common Acid Reflux Symptoms

It’s all well and good to advise you on what food to avoid when preventing acid reflux, but how do you know if you suffer?

Common acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Heartburn: as previously mentioned, this is the most common symptom and is a burning feeling that occurs in your lower chest, abdomen or throat
  • Regurgitation: when stomach acid escapes through your sphincter and causes a sour/bitter taste of acid in your throat or mouth
  • Dysphagia: this is the sensation of feeling as though you have food stuck in your throat
  • Hiccups
  • Burping/belching
  • Nausea

How To Stop Heartburn

There may be many foods which cause problems, but luckily, there are also a few that can stop heartburn from occurring.

  • Ginger: this is often used to relieve nausea. It can also help reduce symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn
  • Green Vegetables are low in fat, acid and sugar and have been proved to prevent pain and discomfort

These natural remedies can be helpful, but when battling acid reflux regularly, it’s wise to seek medical treatment.

Treatments For Acid Reflux

Express Pharmacy has a multitude of acid reflux and heartburn treatments which are guaranteed to provide long-term relief and prevention. The two most popular treatments for acid reflux can be found below:

Omeprazole is an effective and established medication for treating acid reflux; it helps to decrease the amount of acid your stomach is producing. As well as this, Omeprazole helps to repair acid damage to your stomach and oesophagus which, if left, could result in stomach ulcers or oesophagus cancer.

Lansoprazole is another type of medication Express Pharmacy sells to treat stomach and oesophagus problems, such as acid reflux. Lansoprazole also decreases the amount of acid your stomach is making while relieving symptoms such as heartburn, coughing and swallowing difficulty.

For more information regarding effective treatments for acid reflux, speak to our team on 0208 123 0703.

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How Do I Know if I Have Erectile Dysfunction?

Posted Tuesday 21 January 2020 10:48 by in Erectile Dysfunction by Harman Bhamra

man looking out of window

It is perfectly normal for men to struggle with arousal at some point in their lives, but if the problem becomes frequent, it can cause strain on a relationship.

Studies have found that up to 52% of men experience symptoms of erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives, making it a pervasive problem across the globe. But how do you know if you actually have erectile dysfunction, and how is it treated?

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is diagnosed when a male near enough always has difficulty achieving and/or maintaining an erection. It typically occurs when the blood flow is restricted to the penis.

There are many causes of erectile dysfunction; from stress and tiredness to anxiety and over-drinking. Medical problems can also cause erectile dysfunction, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

What Are The Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction?

There are three main erectile dysfunction symptoms to look out for. If any of the below are frequently occurring when in the bedroom, you may be dealing with erectile dysfunction and could benefit from treatment.

1. Being Unable To Get An Erection

The main tell-tale sign of erectile dysfunction is being unable to get an erection when in the bedroom. Although this is perfectly normal from time to time and can be caused by other factors, frequent trouble may suggest an ED problem.

2. Being Unable To Maintain An Erection

There’s a common misconception that erectile dysfunction only means that you can’t get it ‘up’. However, in some instances, erectile dysfunction leaves some men unable to maintain an erection for as long as desired instead.

This symptom is not to be confused with premature ejaculation (although the two problems can overlap). When a man has erectile dysfunction and struggles to maintain an erection, it is unlikely that he will ejaculate.

3. Low Desire To Have Sex

Another symptom of erectile dysfunction is a reduced desire to have sex. Many men find that, if they are struggling with one of the above problems, they have a low sexual desire. However, the above problems aren’t always the cause; some men naturally have low sex drives, meaning getting aroused becomes quite the challenge.

Who is likely to be at risk from erectile dysfunction?

As mentioned previously, over 50% of men will experience erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives. Although it can affect anyone, people who fall into any of the following categories are at a higher risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction:

  • Frequent alcohol drinkers
  • Men aged over 40
  • Those with depression, stress or anxiety
  • Overweight men
  • Those with a medical condition (eg: high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease)

With the above categories being fairly broad, it’s clear to see just how many men may have erectile dysfunction.

How do you treat erectile dysfunction?

Luckily, due to being such a global problem, there are many erectile dysfunction treatments available. The most popular treatments include:

Lifestyle Changes

You may have noticed that some of the people at risk of having erectile dysfunction can alleviate the issue with a few lifestyle changes. Reducing alcohol intake, maintaining a good exercise routine, eating healthily and stopping smoking are all lifestyle changes that can reduce the chances of erectile dysfunction occurring.

Therapy

If mental health problems are affecting your sexual performance, seeking help through therapy is a viable option. A therapist will be able to unravel any underlying concerns which might be triggering the mental health problem, and over time, your sexual performance will benefit as a result.

Prescribed Erectile Dysfunction Tablets

Erectile dysfunction tablets are one of the most popular, and quickest, solutions for erectile dysfunction. An oral erectile dysfunction tablet is taken roughly one hour before sex, and once in the system, can last for up to four hours!

The two most popular erectile dysfunction tablets go by the name of Sildenafil and Viagra. Both treatments are extremely similar and effectively enable more blood to flow to the penis during sexual stimulation. Sildenafil tablets and Viagra tablets are both available at Express Pharmacy and can be delivered to you in as little as one working day. It’s never been so easy to discreetly buy Viagra online.

If you have erectile dysfunction and would like to seek help, do not hesitate to contact our pharmaceutical experts on 0208 123 0703. Alternatively, browse our erectile dysfunction treatments today.

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