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Is It Possible to Avoid Pregnancy Without Contraception?

Posted Thursday 28 February 2019 12:05 by in Emergency Contraception by Tim Deakin

avoiding pregnancy

According to the NHS, there are 15 methods of contraception to choose from, each with its own level of effectiveness to consider. [1] However, this does mean that there are plenty of options for every individual and circumstance.

So surely, there’s no reason not to use protection of some kind if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy? Well, not everyone agrees. There are, of course, religious and cultural factors to take into account, as well as a host of myths and theories surrounding contraception and safe sex that have the capacity to confuse matters.

From contraception-free sex methods to myths about contraception itself, let’s see how some of these theories stand up to scrutiny.

Having sex on your period

There is a lot of talk surrounding the notion of having sex on your period. First of all, period sex is safe, and can actually lead to benefits such as relief from menstrual cramps.

However, your period should not be relied on as an effective method of contraception. Although you’re most likely to get pregnant during ovulation, every cycle is different and getting pregnant around your period can happen.[2]

The pull-out technique

The pull-out technique of contraception involves relying on a male partner’s timing. When the male partner feels that the point of climax is approaching, he ‘pulls out’ of the female in order to avoid releasing sperm into the vagina. However, in the heat of the moment, this can be difficult to time effectively, meaning the pull-out technique is not a guaranteed way to avoid pregnancy. In fact, if 100 women were to use the technique for pregnancy prevention each year, roughly 22 would have an unintended pregnancy.[3]

Having sex while breastfeeding

Many women assume that there is a direct correlation between their sex life and their decision to breastfeed. A study in 2005 found that women who were breast-feeding were more likely to delay resuming intercourse than those who were not breastfeeding.[4]

Research has shown that breastfeeding may help to prevent pregnancy if certain conditions are met, namely that the woman is within six months of having delivered the baby, has not had a menstrual cycle and if the baby is feeding only on breastmilk. All three of these conditions need to be met in order for breastfeeding to help in any way with contraception, and even then there is still a significant chance that pregnancy will occur.

The myths surrounding female contraception

The use of modern contraception has increased slightly in recent years, according to the World Health Organisation. In 1990, 54% used modern contraception, compared to 57.4% in 2015. However, this still almost half the female population who are not practising safe sex.[5]

This is partly due to the myths which surround female contraception. One such myth is that birth control causes severe weight gain. An analysis of 49 studies in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that going on the pill made no significant different to a woman’s weight.[6]

Another common misconception is that the use of birth control can lead to birth defects in children. Several studies have found no evidence between taking birth control and the likelihood of birth defects.[7]

contraception

Contraception is key

No matter when and how you’re having intercourse, practising safety throughout contraception is an important part of the process. The World Health Organisation summarises some of the key benefits of contraception, including empowering people, reducing adolescent pregnancies, slowing population growth, reducing infant mortality rates and helping to prevent the spread of diseases.[8]

If you’re nervous about seeking contraception from your GP, you can obtain safe and effective contraception discreetly by order from Express Pharmacy. If you have any more questions, you can get in touch with our pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our online Live Chat service.


[1] NHS UK. What is contraception? 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[2] NHS UK. Can I get pregnant just after my period has finished? 2018 [Accessed February 2019]

[3] Women’s Health Institute. Contraception myths. Cleveland Clinic, 2018 [Accessed February 2019]

[4] Rowland, M, Foxcroft, L., Hopman, W.M., Patel, R. Breastfeeding and sexuality immediately post partum. Can Fam Physician, 2005 [Accessed February 2019]

[5] World Health Organisation. Family Planning Fact Sheet. 2015 [Accessed February 2019]

[6] Gallo, M., Lopez, L., Grimes, D., Carayon, F., Schulz, K., Helmerhorst, F. Combination contraceptives: effects on weight. Cochrane Library, 2014 [Accessed February 2019]

[7] Sifferlin, A., Birth Control Pill Not Linked to Birth Defects: Study. TIME, 2016 [Accessed February 2019]

[8] World Health Organisation. Family Planning Fact Sheet. 2015 [Accessed February 2019]


The Complex Relationship Between Periods and Pregnancy

Posted Thursday 21 February 2019 22:55 by in Emergency Contraception by Tim Deakin

pregnancy and periods

The relationship between periods and pregnancy is one which is constantly being questioned. A lack of open discussion and education has left many women unsure of the impact a period may or may not have on conception and contraception. Last year, there were 792,636 contacts to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in the UK made by women with enquiries about pregnancy and contraception. The most likely age group to contact Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for contraception were 18-19 year old females.[1]

So to help clear things up, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about periods and pregnancy.

Is it possible to get your period during pregnancy?

In short, no. You cannot experience a genuine menstrual period while you’re pregnant. The reason many women are confused by this fact is that it is possible to experience vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, but this is not the same thing as menstruation. In most cases, this spotting is the result of ‘implantation bleeding’, or due to a Pap smear, vaginal exam or sex. However, it can also be a sign of something more serious such as infection, placental issues, miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. If you experience any bleeding during pregnancy, seek advice from your GP as soon as possible.

When is the best time of the month to try for a baby?

One question many women ask themselves is ‘can you get pregnant anytime of the month?’ This is often born out of frustration at taking a long time to conceive. However, while just over a third of healthy couples will conceive in the first month of trying, it can often take longer. In fact, if you’re under 35 and in good health, it’s perfectly natural for conception to take up to a year.[2] What’s more, it’s estimated that around one in seven couples struggles to conceive.[3]

For the best chances of conception, couples should engage in intercourse within a day or so of ovulation. This describes the point when an egg is released from the ovary, and usually occurs around 14 days after the first day of your last period.

Do irregular periods make it more difficult to conceive?

According to clinical professor of obstetrics-gynaecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, Amy Audrey, MD, at least 30% of women have irregular periods during their child-bearing years.[4]

The effect this has on your chances of getting pregnant really depends on the underlying cause of your irregular periods. In most cases, it will have very little effect on your ability to conceive. However, in certain cases irregular periods can be the result of something more serious like fibroids, blood clotting, polyps or thyroid issues, which can impact your chances of getting pregnant as well as your overall health.

Can you get pregnant on your period?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to pregnancy and periods. The answer is that while you are far less likely to get pregnant on your period, you shouldn’t rely on this alone as a method of contraception. Monthly cycles can be unpredictable, and women with shorter cycles have an increased chance of getting pregnant during their period. Furthermore, it is perfectly possible to fall pregnant just before or just after your period, so using this as a method of contraception can be extremely risky.

The Importance of Contraception

No matter what method you choose, contraception is vital for preventing pregnancy and increasing the safety of your intercourse. The contraceptive pill is typically between 91-99% effective when it comes to preventing pregnancy, while an IUD is more than 99% effective. Male condoms are between 82-98% effective and female condoms are between 79-95% effective.[5]

Simply put, you shouldn’t rely on timing sexual intercourse around your period as your sole method of avoiding pregnancy. If you want to enjoy intercourse without the risk of pregnancy, the right contraception is an absolute must.

Both female contraception and emergency contraception are available safely and discreetly from Express Pharmacy. For further information and guidance, speak to one of our NHS-approved pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online Live Chat service.


[1] NHS UK. Sexual and Reproductive Health Services. 2017. [Accessed February 2019]

[2] Clearblue UK. How long does it take to get pregnant? 2018. [Accessed February 2019]

[3] National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Fertility – assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems. 2013. [Accessed February 2019]

[4] Everyday Health. The Facts About Irregular Periods. 2010. [Accessed February 2019]

[5] NHS UK. How effective is contraception at preventing pregnancy? 2017. [Accessed February 2019]


Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Contraception

Posted Saturday 15 December 2018 17:06 by in Emergency Contraception by Tim Deakin

emergency contraception

Emergency contraception is an effective means of preventing pregnancy following unprotected sex, or sex during which the method of contraception has failed – e.g. a split condom or a missed contraceptive pill.

There are two kinds of emergency contraception: the morning after pill and the intrauterine device (IUD). Emergency contraception is not designed as a primary source of contraception, but rather something to be taken when other methods are not available or fail.

Read on to find everything you need to know about the morning after pill, including where you can get it safely and swiftly.

The fast facts you need to know about emergency contraception

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding emergency contraception, so here are some of the key facts to help clear things up for you.

  • Emergency contraception cannot be used to terminate a pregnancy. The morning after pill and the abortion pill are two completely different kinds of medication and should never be used interchangeably.
  • Emergency contraception has no impact on your ability to conceive in the future. There is no evidence to suggest that even multiple uses of the morning after pill will make you less likely to get pregnant in the future.
  • The morning after pill has up to a 95% effectiveness rating for preventing pregnancy. Less than one percent of women who use the IUD get pregnant.[1]
  • Emergency contraception can be taken up to 5 days after sex and still be effective, depending on the contraception you choose.

Your choice of contraception

Another misconception regarding emergency contraception is that it only comes in one form. In reality, there are several options available. As we mentioned above, the two main kinds of emergency contraception are the morning after pill and the IUD. There are also different kinds of morning after pill to choose from too.

ellaOne emergency contraception

These are Levonelle and ellaOne. Levonelle can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, though it is most effective in the first 12 hours. It works by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg and preventing sperm from fertilising any egg that may have been released.

Similarly, ellaOne can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. A dose consists of one tablet which works to inhibit or delay ovulation, helping to prevent pregnancy.

The IUD is a more long-term commitment to emergency contraception. It involves the insertion of a coil directly into the womb which then releases copper to stop the egg implanting in your womb or being fertilised.

The morning after pill: your questions answered

Who can use the morning after pill?

Most women can take the morning after pill safely, including women who can’t use hormonal contraception and breastfeeding mothers. It’s always best to check with your GP if you are currently taking any other prescription medication. You should also avoid the medication if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.

Can you use it alongside normal contraception?

You can use emergency contraception if you forget to take a dose of your regular contraceptive pill. If you have taken Levonelle, you should continue your normal course of contraception within 12 hours. After taking ellaOne, you should wait 5 days before taking your next contraceptive pill.[2]

What are the side effects of the emergency pill?

There are no serious side effects to taking the morning after pill. However, it can cause mild, short-term side effects such as headaches, tummy pains, nausea and changes to the timing of your next period.


6 Myths About Emergency Contraception Made Clear

Posted Tuesday 27 February 2018 10:21 by in Emergency Contraception by Tim Deakin

There is a lot of information out there about emergency contraception. But how do you know what to believe?

Emergency contraception is an effective method of ensuring that sexual intercourse doesn’t result in pregnancy, especially following unprotected sex. Even if other contraceptive methods are used, using the morning after pill can help provide extra protection for any margin of error.

However, many people get confused about the prospect of using emergency contraception, and there is a lot of misinformation fuelling the fire. When should you use it? What are your options? Is it safe? Let’s myth-bust some common misconceptions about emergency contraception.

“There is only one option when it comes emergency contraception”

Actually, there are several emergency contraception options out there which can help prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. There are two main forms of emergency contraception: the emergency IUD (otherwise known as the emergency coil) and the morning after pill. Whilst the morning after pill is the more commonly used of the two, it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional about which option is best for your specific circumstances.

There are also options within these options too. Both Levonelle and ellaOne are popular and effective emergency contraception tablets.

“Emergency contraception can terminate a pregnancy”

The morning after pill and the abortion pill are two completely different kinds of medication and should never be used interchangeably. If you are already confirmed to be pregnant, emergency contraception like the morning after pill will make no difference to the development of your pregnancy. It should only be used to prevent pregnancy.

“Emergency contraception affects your future fertility”

There is no evidence to suggest that even multiple uses of the morning after pill can affect your fertility in the long term. It will not reduce your future chances of falling pregnant. Even if you have unprotected sex again several days after taking the contraception there is no evidence that your chances of falling pregnant will be any lower.

“You will experience a lot of unpleasant side effects”

Like many medications, emergency contraception carries with it the risk of experiencing side effects. However, like many medications, most people will be able to use the treatment without experiencing any negative symptoms at all. If you do experience side effects, they will most likely be mild and temporary.

Possible side effects of the morning after pill include headaches, nausea, stomach pain and irregular menstrual flow.

“It only works if you take it straight after sexual intercourse”

Modern emergency contraceptive treatments like Levonelle and ellaOne have an extended period of effectiveness, meaning you can take them up to 3 to 5 days after unprotected sex and still reduce your chances of falling pregnant.

However, it is true that the sooner you take emergency contraception, the more effective it is. EllaOne has been shown to be around 98% effective if taken within twelve hours of sexual intercourse, but can be taken anytime up to 120 hours after unprotected sex.

Similarly, Levonelle is 95% effective if taken within 12 hours of unprotected sex, 85% if taken between 12 and 24 hours after sex, 75% effective if taken between 24 and 48 hours after sex and 58% effective if taken between 48 and 72 hours after sex.

“Emergency contraception is difficult to get”

Research suggests that only 7% of women are aware of just how simple it is to acquire emergency contraception. It can be obtained directly from your local pharmacy, from a sexual health clinic, your GP or a walk-in centre. You can even obtain it without leaving the house by ordering from trusted online pharmacies like Express Pharmacy.

For treatment and advice on emergency contraception and other healthcare queries, contact the team at Express Pharmacy today. Call 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

Tags: ellaOne Levonelle Emergency Contraception Female Contraception Sexual Health Women's Health

How You Can Help This Movember

Posted Wednesday 01 November 2017 16:53 by in Emergency Contraception by Tim Deakin

By now, almost everyone is aware of the autumn health campaign known as Movember. In fact, it’s hard to miss the thousands of hastily grown moustaches that pop up over the course of the month throughout the course of November.

But Movember is much more than facial hair and a modest cause to raise awareness. This year’s campaign is more ambitious than ever before in its aim to address men’s health. November offers an opportunity to learn more about the Movember Foundation and their fight to increase the life expectancy of men around the world.

Why Movember?

Too many men are affected by ill health. On average men live 6 years less than women. Testicular cancer rates have doubled in the in the last 5 years, and prostate cancer rates are set to double over the next 15 years.

It is not just cancer that is taking the men in our lives beyond their prime, however. Staggering three-quarters of all suicides are carried out by men. Movember helps raise money to improve services and advocates for more open and honest discussions about men’s health issues, including a focus on mental health.

Men’s health matters and with the help and support of the community, you can help Movember reach its aim — to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by the year 2030.

Here is how you can help the cause this November!

Grow a mo

Whether you opt for a lavish handle bar, a modest goatee, or a work of art all your own, facial hair is a ribbon for the cause and is a great way to get people talking about men’s health. This is your chance to get creative, let the sponsor with the highest donation choose the style or colour of your new furry friend for added hilarity and a boost to donations! Whatever you do make sure you direct people to the Movember web page to donate.

Take the Move challenge

With the festive season around the corner and the cold months settling in, there is no better time to get physically active. Make a bid to move more during November and your new fitness regime can help raise money for men’s health with the help of sponsors. Take the Move Challenge means you can carry out any activity you like: organise a race with friends, learn salsa or don a costume and head to the gym to set a new personal record. Get thinking and get moving!

Organise an event

For those females who can’t grow a mo or for those who would prefer to exercise out of the limelight, fear not. You can organise an event of your choice to rake in the pounds instead. Set up a ping pong tournament, try a game of Dungeons and Dragons or plan a good old fashioned dinner party.

Organise well and you and your friends can enjoy a great night whilst making a valuable contribution to the Movember Foundation. If you want to organise a large event, it is always worth asking local venues to sponsor it, and ask local brands to provide prizes or party supplies. Just remember to create your event on the Movember site so you can keep track of RSVPs. AND don’t forget to thank your sponsors.

Distinguished Gentleman’s ride

Are you a keen motorcyclist? Then maybe you should consider joining the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride to join the hoards of suave bikers atop vintage motorbikes. With over 500 cities taking part, there is sure to be a ride near you!

The Movember campaign makes it incredibly easy to raise money for this worthy cause. You choose an event. You set the date. Simply sign up online and direct your long line of sponsors to the Movember webpage where they can donate freely so you don’t have to pester them for payments. For those daring souls out there, we urge you to try all three main events at once! We let you off if you don’t know how to ride a motorcycle.

Taking men’s health seriously

One of the most common problems faced by men identified during Movember is the reluctance of many gentlemen to discuss their health problems. Statistically, men are much less likely to discuss their concerns – whether it’s a case of erectile dysfunction, acid reflux or something more sinister such as a lump on their testicles or a severe bout of depression.

If you are a man and want to reach out discreetly to discuss your health concerns, why not use our discreet Live Chat service available through the website? We’re always happy to help and can provide important advice and guidance in complete confidence.