It's Infuriating That Medical Advice On The Pill Was Wrong, But It's Not Surprising

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New guidelines from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health suggest that those on the combined contraceptive pill have been experiencing monthly bleeds for no reason. Lisa Niven-Phillips asks why.

stated that “there is no health benefit from the seven-day hormone-free interval” and “women can safely take fewer hormone-free intervals to avoid monthly bleeds, cramps and other symptoms”. The guidelines apply to all combined hormonal contraception: combined contraceptive patches or rings as well as the pill.

This should be good news. As the guidelines recognise, the bleed which usually arrives during the seven pill-free days in each 28-day cycle - most packs are divided into 21-pill blister packs, designed to be taken with a week's gap between them - is often accompanied by cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms which many women would relish skipping. On top of that it’s just a nuisance.

, which at the time of writing has yet to be updated, advises users to “avoid taking more than two packs without a break, unless your GP says you can”.So the news that we can now take the combined pill continuously with no health repercussions should be truly liberating.

A huge number of women and other menstruating people use the pill, with more than half of 20 to 24-year-old women - 64 per cent - taking it, according to thefor which I can find a reputable source. These, gallingly, are from 2007.

referring specifically to sexual and reproductive health services , stated that 47 per cent of women who contacted said services used oral contraceptives. So, regardless, it’s a lot.When a huge number of the population are relying upon a particular medication, you’d hope that there would be endless studies undertaken on its effects; countless reports on its efficacy and the ways in which it is taken.


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