New Contraceptive Pill Guidelines, what do they mean?
New guidelines by The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health have been published in response to a type of contraceptive pill that means those who take it are required to take a seven-day break from taking the pill, each month.
New guidelines have been published in order to inform those who take Combined Hormonal Contraception (CHC), a type of contraceptive pill that encourages those who take it to have a seven-day hormone free interval in order to allow their periods to continue regularly. Note that not every contraceptive pill works this way and that anybody reading this should contact their doctor if they have any questions about their dosage. Many contraceptive pills require those who take it, to take it everyday.
If you have any queries about contraception or sexual health in general, these should be pointed towards your doctor or local sexual health clinic. Please do not adjust your contraceptive pill dosage based on the information provided by The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) and always consult your doctor before making any changes.
New guidelines published this week suggest that research carried out by FSRH highlights that in some cases, women may not need to take a seven-day hormone-free interval when taking the CHC contraceptive pill. The guidelines stipulate the following:
– The updated FSRH guideline highlights that there is no health benefit from the seven-day hormone-free interval.
– Women can safely take fewer (or no) hormone-free intervals to avoid monthly bleeds, cramps and other symptoms.
– If a hormone-free interval is taken, shortening it to four days could potentially reduce the risk of pregnancy if pills, patches or rings are missed.
– Consultations about CHC do not necessarily have to be face-to-face; online CHC provision is possible.
– At the first consultation, many women can safely be prescribed a one year supply of CHC instead of the current three month supply.
FSRH have added:
“A new NICE-accredited clinical guideline from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) highlights that there is no health benefit from having this hormone-free interval. Women can avoid monthly bleeding and symptoms that come with it by running pill packets together so that they take fewer (or no) breaks.”
Important things to remember
The published guidelines also contain a statement from Dr Diana Mansour, the Vice President of Clinical Quality at FSRH who states the following:
“Pill-taking often isn’t perfect; the riskiest time to miss pills is at the beginning and the end of a pill-free interval. The guideline suggests that by taking fewer hormone-free intervals – or shortening them to four days – it is possible that women could reduce the risk of getting pregnant on combined hormonal contraception.”
“Women requesting combined hormonal contraception should be given information about its effectiveness and alternatives including long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), the most effective methods of contraception. If the combined pill is the woman’s preferred option and it is deemed safe for her, clinicians can prescribe a year’s supply at the first consultation, with recommended annual follow-up”
Should the pill be taken everyday?
The pill only works well as a contraceptive if you remember to take it as recommended. You will have ‘missed’ taking the pill if you take it more than 24 hours after your ‘regular’ time. The pill should be taken at the same time each day in order to ensure accuracy.
With regards to the CHC contraceptive pill that means those who take it are encouraged to take a seven-day hormone-free interval might not cause themselves any harm if they decide not to take the break in order to stop their period, based on the research and guidelines published by the FSRH. Remember though, you should consult your doctor before trying this as they will be able to recommend the best course of action. I should point out also that the FSRH admit their guidelines do not fall in line with those of the NHS, therefore, a professional should always be consulted before making changes to to contraceptive routine.
Remember, other types of contraceptive pill are to be taken everyday regardless. If you’re unsure whether or not your pill is CHC, ask your doctor for clarification.
For further information of Sexual Health, consult the NHS Sexual Health directory.