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Women's Medication

Your Complete Guide to Cystitis

Posted Monday 21 August 2017 16:18 by Tim Deakin in Women's Medication

Put simply, cystitis occurs when you suffer bladder inflammation – usually the result of a bladder infection. Cystitis is one of the more common kinds of urinary tract infection, or UTI, and it occurs a lot more often in women than in men.

Although generally quite a mild condition, with most cases righting themselves within a few days, it can require long term treatment if someone suffers from the condition regularly. There’s also a chance the condition could lead to kidney infection in more serious cases.

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

As with most infections, there are symptoms to look out for. These include feeling the need to urinate more often than normal and producing urine which is darker, cloudier or stronger smelling than usual. You may also experience burning, pain and stinging when you urinate and pain in the lower part of your stomach. General nausea, achiness and lethargy are also common.

In young children, further symptoms sometimes present themselves. These include vomiting, lack of appetite, irritability and a temperature of over 38 degrees centigrade.

Although cases often get better on their own, it’s important to know when to seek medical guidance. If you’re not sure whether you have cystitis, you get it frequently, your symptoms are severe, your symptoms don’t improve after a few days or if you’re a man, child or pregnant woman with symptoms, you should turn to a professional for advice and treatment.

What causes cystitis?

The urethra is the tube which carries urine out of the body. Most cases of cystitis are caused when the bacteria that reside harmlessly in your bowel or on your skin manage to find their way into your bladder through the urethra. Although relatively benign in other parts of the body, these bacteria are more troublesome in the urinary tract.

This shift in bacteria can occur through several different means, and the true cause isn’t always completely clear. However, there are some common causes which have been identified in women. These include sexual intercourse, wiping your bottom from back to front after going to the toilet, using a diaphragm as a form of contraception and the insertion of a tampon or urinary catheter.

One of the reasons that women suffer from cystitis more often than men is because the urethra is much shorter, meaning bacteria can access the bladder more easily.

How can you prevent cystitis?

There are some precautionary actions you can take to make you less likely to suffer from the infection.

These include opting for showers over baths, as this means your lower regions aren’t exposed to chemicals and bacteria in the water for as long. You can also stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, avoid perfumed bath and shower products, wear underwear made from cotton rather than synthetic material and avoid using a diaphragm as your chosen contraception.

You should also go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge, especially after sexual intercourse.

How do you treat cystitis?

If you visit your GP due to a case of cystitis, you’ll most likely be given antibiotics to treat the infection. If you’re treating the condition at home, you’re advised to take paracetamol or ibuprofen, stay hydrated, use a hot water bottle and avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms clear.

Medication such as trimethoprim is effective for clearing cystitis and other UTIs, as it helps kill off the bacteria causing the infection. This is available from Express Pharmacy as a short course medication of twice a day for three days.

If you’re in need of medical guidance, contact Express Pharmacy today. You can use our discreet Live Chat service or call us on 0208 123 0703.

Related Products: Trimethoprim
Related Categories: Cystitis

The Health Problems to Expect When You’re Expecting

Posted Tuesday 07 March 2017 14:42 by Tim Deakin in Women's Medication

The process of growing another human being is a magical one. At the end of it, lucky parents get to take their bundle of joy home with them for a lifetime of love and shared affection. Yet, pregnancy itself is a challenge like no other. For many expectant mothers it is filled with a whole host of not-so-wonderful symptoms that go far beyond the healthy glow and whirlwind of hormones.

From conception to the day of the birth, the female body goes through a bevy of major changes. Knowing what to expect from week to week from a changing body can be a great source of relief, whether you are a first-time parent or not. Each pregnancy is different, of course, but there are a variety of common side effects that many women are likely to experience.

Here we reveal just some of the common health problems to expect when expecting, so you can understand what your body is going through and seek assistance from your maternity team where necessary.


Backache is particularly common during pregnancy as your ligaments soften and stretch to prepare you for the impending birth of your child.

Your lower back and pelvis will be most affected. As your pregnancy progresses and the weight of your baby increases, symptoms are likely to worsen. There are several steps that you can take to protect your back and limit pain. Avoid lifting heavy objects where possible and even when moving light items take extra care to bend your knees and keep your back straight to prevent injury. Wearing flat shoes is also recommended during pregnancy as high heels can exacerbate the discomfort caused by spinal curvature.

Keeping your back supported, especially when sitting or sleeping, is vital. Rest is the key to preventing back pain, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.


The sudden onset of cramp can be extremely scary during pregnancy. Sudden, sharp pain can be experienced at any stage and in almost any part of your body. Cramp in the feet and calf muscles is particularly common during the night and can often require regular, gentle exercise to alleviate these most painful of symptoms. By ensuring that your muscles are stretched and circulation is good can keep cramp problems to a minimum. For this reason, many expectant mothers take up pregnancy Pilates in the months before their due date.


Common both during and after pregnancy, incontinence or the need to urinate more frequently are uncomfortable symptoms that can be prevented. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles should be an essential part of your daily routine. These simple exercises work to support your bladder and bowel, and prevent the weakened pelvic floor muscles that are common with age or after you have children. Weakened pelvic floor muscles put you at risk of incontinence, reduced sexual sensitivity and pelvic organ prolapse. But by completing pelvic floor or kegel exercises you can keep everything in working order and reduce the risk of incontinence after the birth of your baby.

If you are urinating frequently and experiencing pain or passing blood in your urine, then you may have a urinary tract infection. It is recommended that you see your GP within 24 hours of noticing these symptoms so appropriate treatment can be given. Medication will usually be offered. Please note that any medication taken during pregnancy should be approved by a GP, trusted pharmacist or midwife before use.


The hormonal changes in your body will be responsible for a number of side effects during pregnancy, including indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux. Around 80% of women experience these symptoms during pregnancy, particularly during the latter stages when the womb begins to put pressure on the stomach.

Easing the discomfort of heartburn and other symptoms of indigestion (these include feeling uncomfortably full, nausea, burping, gas and bloating) may require an expectant mother to change their eating habits to avoid any heartburn triggers. There are also a number of prescription heartburn medicines on the market – however, it is always important to check with your GP or pharmacist that medication is safe to take during pregnancy.


Vomiting is experienced by many women during pregnancy, and whilst morning sickness is common, symptoms usually ease by week 16 to 20. Morning sickness does not put your baby at risk but if you find that symptoms persist into the second or third trimester, it may be necessary to seek help and advice from your GP, pharmacist or midwife if symptoms persist or you experience a more severe form of nausea, known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG).

Related Categories: Acid Reflux

The Contraceptive Pill Does Not Put Babies at Risk of Birth Defects

Posted Monday 29 February 2016 11:27 by Tim Deakin in Women's Medication

women's medicationThe contraceptive pill has been closely scrutinised ever since it first became widely available in the 1960s. As a medication that influences the hormone levels in the body, the pill can affect the body in a number of ways, including some minor but manageable side effects.

For many women who choose to take oral contraceptives, there is a long-standing fear that taking the pill when unaware of pregnancy may result in birth defects to their unborn child. Similarly, those women who take the pill for many years before coming off contraception to try for a baby have expressed concerns that this may somehow affect the health of any subsequent children.

Recent research has shown, however, that taking oral contraceptives does not increase the risk of children being born with defects. In fact, the number of birth defects recorded in the study found that those women who had never used oral contraceptives had the same likelihood of birth defects – roughly 25 in every 1000 – as those who had regularly used the pill.

There are a number of minor side effects traditionally related to the pill, including water retention, mood swings and decreased libido, as well as a slightly increased risk of blood clots due to the heightened levels of oestrogen in the body. However, this risk is relatively small. Any woman already at risk of blood clots or stroke – such as women over the age of 35 who are heavy smokers – are typically recommended to use alternative forms of contraceptives.

While it is unusual for women to continue to take the contraceptive pill during the course of pregnancy beyond the first trimester, when it is possible to be unaware of the baby, there are some cases where women have cause to continue with the medication. The oral contraceptive’s ability to manage hormones can be important to women with conditions such as acne.

What does this mean for women on the pill looking to conceive in the future?

The findings of the research into the oral contraceptive should reassure women that there is no proven link between the pill and birth defects in children. From this standpoint, the oral contraceptive can still be considered one of the most effective, convenient and safe solutions for women looking to control their cycle and fertility.

While the study also suggests that there is little reason for women to stop taking the pill during pregnancy, most medical professionals would still advise coming off the pill upon confirmation of a pregnancy.

Historically, it has been common practice for a woman to come off contraception a number of months before trying for a baby to avoid any adverse hormone effects. This study shows that there is no proven reason to do so, however, and so it may be considered safe to continue with the pill right up until a couple begin to try for a family.

Evidence does suggest, however, that conception is more likely if the menstrual cycle is given time to return to a more natural pattern, however, so this may still provide a reason to stop the oral contraceptive some months before trying.

If you require advice in relation to women’s medications such as the contraceptive pill, period-delay treatments or emergency contraception, get in touch with Express Pharmacy today on 0208 123 0703.

The Truth About Unwanted Facial Hair

Posted Sunday 28 February 2016 22:34 by Tim Deakin in Women's Medication

Unwanted facial hair can cause real problems for women. It is completely natural for a woman to have hair on the upper lip, cheeks, chin or neck, however, if that hair becomes thicker and more visible over time, it can be a source of embarrassment – resulting in low self-esteem.

For those women wanting to rid their faces of visible hair, the first step should be to ensure that the hair growth does not relate to a significant medical issue. The appearance of more coarse facial hair may be attributed to raised androgen (male hormone) levels in the body, which is known as hirsutism. Among the most common causes of hirsutism is PCOS - polycystic ovarian syndrome - while more rare cases may include cancers of the adrenal gland, cushing syndrome or the use of drugs such as anabolic steroids.

Once these issues have been discounted, it is possible to seek treatment in the shape of specific medications. At Express Pharmacy, we recommend using Vaniqa (or eflornithine hydrochloride). Vaniqa works by slowing the growth of facial hair during the production cycle. By disrupting an enzyme in the follicle that is essential to its growth, Vaniqa use typically starts showing positive results as soon as 4-8 weeks after twice-daily treatment begins.

Whilst hair removal treatments such as Vaniqa are perfectly safe, there are still some persistent myths surrounding hair removal and hair removal products that may cause concern among women thinking of seeking treatment.

The most persistent is that removing facial hair will make it grow back faster. It's a piece of established wisdom that's as old as anyone can remember and has been accepted as truth for years. But, in reality, it's completely untrue. This particular old wives' tale seems to have it's roots in the shaving habits of teenage boys, with parents down the decades observing that their son would have a more quickly established and luxuriant moustache or beard as soon as they started shaving regularly.

Contrary to popular opinion however, this accelerated growth speed has nothing to do with the act of shaving or hair removal in general, and is in fact linked to the increasing and fluctuating levels of hormones. Body and facial hair grows at different rates for everybody, and unless you're increasing the levels of testosterone in your body there is no medical basis in the idea that removing hair will make it grow back at a greater rate.

Another common misconception is that removing facial hair can also make it grow back thicker. In fact the opposite can actually be true, with frequent hair removal through waxing encouraging follicles to grow back thinner and finer. Hair that has been cut by a razor may sometimes appear to be thicker as it grows back, but that is simply because hair tapers and the section of hair closer to the skin is thicker than the tips at the end of the hair's length.

As far as creams and treatments such as Vaniqa are concerned, however, there will be absolutely no change in the thickness of hair once it has grown back.

At Express Pharmacy, we believe that all women should have the choice of whether or not to deal with their facial hair without worrying about the consequences, especially when those consequences are just age-old fallacies.

Remove hair with confidence with Express Pharmacy and Vaniqa.

Levonelle vs ellaOne: Which Emergency Contraceptive Is Right for Me?

Posted Saturday 30 January 2016 23:41 by Tim Deakin in Women's Medication

Accidents happen in life from time to time and mistakes often need rectifying. But there are few mishaps with more serious implications than opening oneself to the possibility of falling pregnant.

Even the most conscientious of people can suffer an accident or make a misjudgment that leads to the possibility of conception. This may include those individuals who have:

  • Not used contraception during intercourse
  • Used a condom that has split or come off
  • Failed to withdraw as intended
  • Missed their contraceptive pill

A fast and effective solution to such occurrences is an emergency contraceptive – otherwise known as the ‘morning after pill’. Provided that the medication is taken a short period of time after the unprotected sex has taken place, emergency contraceptives can be a simple and hassle-free way to ensure that a woman does not fall pregnant.

At Express Pharmacy, we now stock two emergency contraceptives. Not surprisingly, we are regularly asked which option is best and so in this article we will compare and contrast Levonelle and ellaOne.


EllaOne is considered to be the most effective morning after pill on the market. The active ingredient is a chemical called ulipristal acetate, which comes in the form of a single tablet.

EllaOne is considered to be 95% effective when taken within five days of unprotected intercourse, offering a significantly longer window for treatment than Levonelle. It is important to say, however, that those not wishing to fall pregnant should take EllaOne as soon as possible after sex, rather than allowing the full 120 hours to elapse.

A drawback of ellaOne is that it may only be taken once during a single menstrual cycle, and may disrupt long-term contraception such as the combined pill during the cycle.

The result of this is that it is not always possible to continue sexual activity as normal during the subsequent menstrual cycle due to the increased likelihood of pregnancy.

Side effects

Whilst usually rare and not considered serious, there are a few potential side effects to be aware of when taking ellaOne. These may include:

  • Irregular bleeding
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains

Should you take any other prescription medications for health conditions, it is important to seek the advice of a pharmacist or GP before taking ellaOne.


Levonelle is the most widely used emergency contraception pill on the market today. Although it is considered to be less effective than ellaOne and may only be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, it is a cheaper and more flexible option.

Levonelle contains the active ingredient levonorgestrel. It is recommended that Levonelle is ingested within 12 hours of unprotected sex for maximum effectiveness, but it is possible to take the medication with some reliability up to 3 days after intercourse. Reliability figures are as follows:

  • Up to 95% effective when taken within the first 24 hours after intercourse
  • Up to 85% effective when taken within the first 48 hours after intercourse
  • Up to 58% effective when taken within the first 72 hours after intercourse

An added benefit of Levonelle is that it is possible to take tablets more than once during the same menstrual cycle if you should require it. And unlike ellaOne, which can inhibit some forms of contraceptive pill, Levonelle allows women to continue using their usual pill-based contraception effectively throughout the remainder of the month.

Side effects

Much like ellaOne, side effects are rare with Levonelle. For those women who do experience some mild problems, the most common of these are:

  • Bleeding
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains

It should be mentioned that neither ellaOne nor Levonelle have any effectiveness against the contraction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Emergency contraceptions should never be taken as a replacement for protected sex and if unsure as to the likelihood of an STI being contracted, a condom should always be used.

Looking to purchase the morning after pill today? Visit our Emergency Contraception page now. More information is also available via the Family Planning Association.


David brook on Tuesday 27 June 2017 07:59

My partner took it to delay her cycle is this true or not something this tablet is for

Marina Abdalla on Tuesday 27 June 2017 16:56
Reply to David brook

Hi David,

Thank you for reading our blog. Levonelle and EllaOne are tablets taken for emergency contraception when a regular contraceptive method has not been used, or failed. If you are looking for tablets to delay her cycle, the medication required is called Norethisterone. We have this available on our website, or by clicking on the following link - https://www.expresspharmacy.co.uk/treatment/period-delay

If you require any further information on our medication, please do not hesitate to contact us, where one of our advisors will be happy to support you and answers any questions you may have.

Express Pharmacy Patient Support.

Alice on Sunday 24 September 2017 21:51

Hi, do these pills work if the woman has already ovulated? Thank you

Anonymous on Monday 04 September 2017 13:15

Hello is it normal to bleed day after taking it ? Just some little spotting and feeling fatigue taken ellaone 25 hours after the act.