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Contraceptive Pill

Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Contraception

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

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.

Busting the Myths Surrounding Emergency Contraception

Posted Tuesday 29 November 2016 13:53 by Tim Deakin in Emergency Contraception

emergency contraceptionThe issue with contraception and sex is that often they’re either not discussed or discussed in private, a reality that can make the facts surrounding both particularly blurry. As a result, you may not be armed with the information you need to keep safe. Emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill is not new to the market and yet there are a number of misconceptions and myths that can be problematic for women who need the correct information in order to help them make important decisions relating to birth control.

Levonelle and ellaOne are both forms of emergency contraception that can be taken retrospectively to prevent pregnancy. Levonelle must be taken within three days of unprotected sex and ellaOne within five days. While both prevent or delay the release of an egg, ellaOne is considered to be more effective than Levonelle.

Now, let us look in more detail at what emergency contraception does and does not offer women.

The morning after pill does not protect you from STIs

Contrary to popular belief, like many forms of hormonal contraception, the morning after pill doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). As a form of oral contraception, it works by releasing chemicals into the body, which affect the body’s natural response to fertilisation. As such, it cannot form a physical barrier that may also safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases or pelvic infections – as found with condoms and some forms of IUD (intrauterine device).

It does not cause abortion

While medication can be used to bring on abortion, emergency contraception works in a different way. Emergency contraception works by stopping the release of an egg and may also stop sperm from fertilising an egg that has already been released into the fallopian tubes. Levonelle contains levonorgestrel and ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate – which disrupts the natural hormone progesterone within a woman’s body. Progesterone is integral to the ovulation process and as a result, ovulation is prevented or delayed. For eggs that have already been fertilised and have implanted in the uterus, most forms of emergency contraception will have no effect.

Emergency contraception does not become less effective with more use

It is hard to pinpoint the exact number of pregnancies that have been prevented due to the use of Levonelle or ellaOne. However, research conducted in 2010 revealed that of the 1,696 women who received emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) within three days of unprotected sex, just 37 became pregnant. The same study showed that of the 203 women who took the morning after pill within three to five days of sex, three became pregnant. The rule of thumb is that the sooner you take EHCs after unprotected sex, the more effective they are likely to be.

Whilst neither Levonelle or ellaOne should be used as a method of regular contraception, both can be used more than once during any one menstrual cycle if necessary without diminishing effectiveness. It is important to note, that both EHCs do not offer continued protection and only prevent pregnancy after one act of unprotected sex. With Levonelle, your regular method of hormonal contraception will remain effective, however if you were to have sex after taking ellaOne you should use condoms as your normal contraception may not work as effectively as it should do.

It does not become less effective with alcohol

Alcohol or drug use does not make Levonelle or ellaOne any less effective. However, it is important to note that one of the primary side effect of excess alcohol consumption – vomiting – can impact on the effectiveness of oral contraceptives such as EHCs. If you vomit within two hours of taking emergency contraceptive Levonelle or within three hours with ellaOne, it is recommended that you seek medical advice where you will be either given another dose of your preferred EHC or fitted with an IUD.

Make sure you keep safe

In addition to offering trusted advice, Express Pharmacy can help you order the morning after pill discreetly. Simply select your treatment, complete our medical questionnaire and checkout to access a range of fast delivery options.

Periods – There’s an App for That

Posted Monday 31 October 2016 15:16 by Tim Deakin in Period Delay Treatment

period delay treatmentAs smartphones become ever more integrated into our daily lives, many women are forgoing the traditional diary method for tracking their menstrual cycle and choosing to use a smartphone app instead. Check out our rundown of the best period tracker apps available for iPhone and Android, as well as some tips and advice.

What options are available?

Clue – free on Android and iOS

Clue is one of the most popular period apps available, and not without good reason. The journal Obstetrics & Gynaecology even rated the app as the best free menstrual tracking app, a brilliant accolade. This app is particularly popular with women who are tired of menstrual products being pink, covered in flowers and butterflies and described in euphemistic language like “Aunt Flo” and “time of the month”.

Clue offers a no-nonsense approach to menstrual tracking, using a scientific approach to analyse the patterns in your cycle and track mood changes, cramps, skin problems, sleep and more.

Glow – free on Android and iOS

Glow works primarily as an ovulation calculator and self-proclaimed “fertility companion”, designed to help women both avoiding and attempting to get pregnant. To do this, users of the app input when they are menstruating and the calculator becomes smarter and more accurate over time. The app also looks to track women’s overall health as it can be synced with other health apps such as MyFitnessPal and Misfit, as well as the Apple Health app.

Uniquely amongst the apps on this list, Glow also offers support for patients undergoing IVF, and also offers community and partner support which many other similar apps lack.

myPill – free on Android and iOS

myPill is used primarily by women taking oral contraceptive pills. Whether you take a daily contraceptive such as the progesterone-only pills Cerelle, Cerazette and Feanolla, or if you take three weeks of pills followed by a week’s break, myPill will help to ensure that you don’t forget.

Hormonal contraception can have unexpected effects on your menstrual cycle and can make predicting your periods much trickier, so apps like myPill which also offer period tracking capabilities will help you get used to your new cycle. Like the other apps, myPill allows you to track other symptoms such as acne and cramps, so you can ascertain which changes are a side-effect of your medication and which are part of your cycle.

One popular feature of myPill is its customisable alerts which remind you to take your pill. If you use your phone in public, you may not want everyone around you seeing your phone screen flash “take pill”, so you can set the reminder to display “feed the dog” or “cook dinner”, or something equally innocuous. The app also displays as m.P. on your home screen, helping to keep the app discreet.

Period Tracker Lite – free on Android and iOS

Period Tracker Lite is one of the simpler apps on this list. More feminine and flowery than Clue, Period Tracker Lite has many of the same functions as the above apps. Like myPill, the app displays simply as “P. Tracker” for discretion. This is a popular choice for those looking to use their phone as their primary health tracker, as users can try out the free features in Period Tracker Lite before upgrading to a more robust, paid option.

Tips and advice

Even though there are so many options available, menstrual trackers are not perfect. They often rely on the user remembering to input data, and so can be an imprecise science. Doctors advise strongly against using these apps for family planning – although many of them can predict when you are ovulating, there is no way of testing the accuracy without an ovulation test (and even then, this is not a reliable method of birth control).

If you require emergency contraception or medication for delaying your period or preventing period pain, look no further than Express Pharmacy. We can offer a safe, reliable solution to many of the problems related to your menstrual cycle, all from the comfort of your own home.

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.

Birth Control in Brief

Posted Friday 21 November 2014 14:14 by Tim Deakin in Women's Medication

contraceptive pill

As over-the-counter birth control becomes the hot topic of the US presidential race, we take a look at the law over the pond and closer to home.

Amongthe many issues facing both Republican and Democrat candidates ahead of the US elections, over-the-counter birth control has become one of the hottest topics in Washington. Estimates suggest that 70% of US citizens are now in favour of making birth control more easily accessible. Here in the UK, emergency contraception is currently available without a prescription but regular medication is not. Here's a brief snapshot of the history and law on both sides of the Atlantic.


A history of the pill

The contraceptive pill is considered by many to be one of the greatest scientific inventions of the 20th century. This tiny little tablet has had a rather huge impact on the lives of women across the globe. It was created by American biologist Dr Gregory Pincus in the 1950s and works by suppressing ovulation.

Pincus’ first version, tested on Haitian and Puerto Rican women, contained both synthetic oestrogen and progesterone. These mimic the body’s natural hormones to prevent the production of eggs. The combined contraceptive pill was the first contraceptive option for women that was discreet, effective and convenient. It was revolutionary in spurring women’s independence, both sexually and across wider society.

period delay medication

The swinging 60s: With this in mind it’s no surprise then that it was introduced on the NHS in the 60s, a time of liberation and free love. However, it was initially only available to married women; it didn’t become available for all women in the UK until seven years later.

Controversy in the US: In America, the roll-out of the pill was far more fraught. The contraceptive pill wasapproved by the FDA in 1960, but four years later it remained illegal in eight states. Despite this, there were still 6.5 million women on the pill in the US by 1965.

However, in 1969, after Barbara Seaman released ‘The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill’, which brought to light the many side effects of the pill – such as weight gain, loss of libido, blood clots, depression and stroke, popularity radically declined. By 1979 sales in the US dropped by 24%.

New and improved: As more research exposed the risks behind the pill, the original product was taken off the market by the FDA in 1988. A new version became available, with reduced risk – most notably, a decreased risk of ovarian cancer as well a number of other health benefits. From then on the pill was also prescribed to treat acne.

Further developments have been made since then, including a new pill in the US that eliminates menstrual periods as it is taken 365 days a year and progesterone only pill. Alongside this, there are a number of other prescriptions available for managing a woman's menstrual cycle, including period delay medication.

Over-the-counter vs prescribed: Today more than 3.5 million women in the UK use some form of contraceptive pill and each of them receive it via the prescription of a doctor. Women can’t yet receive the pill from over-the-counter chemists.

The same is the case in America but that could soon change. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended the sale of the pill without prescription in 2012 and it’s been picked up by politicians on both sides of the coin.

For many, behind the counter equals behind the times. The reasoning behind this is that by making it more widely and more easily available, its use will increase and unwanted pregnancy will decrease. For those women unable to attend doctor’s appointments to request a prescription, for reasons from discretion to religion or insurance, a move to over-the-counter availability could be as revolutionary as the pill first was itself. Watch this space as the presidential race unfolds.

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