2) The most effective method of contraception is a vasectomy?
The failure rate of a vasectomy is 1 in 2000 procedures. The implant Nexplanon has no user failure rate! It is the safest contraceptive method of all – if inserted and used correctly.
3) Fit, healthy non-smoking women can take the pill until they are 50?
The combined pill has been extensively studied. Using the pill does carry small risks, but if you attend for pill check, do not smoke and maintain a healthy weight, the pill is more likely to confer benefit and not harm. There are other methods for older women, and the relative risk and benefits should be discussed with your GP/nurse. Some advocate use of lower dose combined pills, for women over the age of 40.
4) The combined pill – can now be used in a skin patch, or a vaginal ring?
The pill contains two hormones estrogen and progesterone. However the pill has to be swallowed every day, on time, and the pill rules need to be followed.
The contraceptive patch, is a skin patch which contains the same hormones as the pill. Once applied it releases the hormones through the skin into your blood stream over a 7 day period.
The vaginal ring is a soft, silicone, ring inserted into the vagina which again releases these hormones. On e vaginal ring lasts for 3 weeks.
In principle, the fact these hormones are given through the skin and through the vaginal wall into the blood stream, rather than being taken by mouth, may have benefits in terms of reducing side effects. They may/may not easier to use reliably depending on the user.
5) Cancers are more common in women who use the combined pill?
Contrary to popular belief, the combined pill has been shown to decrease your overall risk of developing cancer by 12%. This was the finding of a 2007 study from the GP database involving over a million women.
The combined pill seems to offer significant protection from cancer of the bowel, the body of the uterus (womb) and the ovary. There is a small increased risk of breast cancer. There is very small increased risk of cervical cancer in women using the pill for over 8 years. (This does not mean women should not take the pill – but they should have regular smears!)
6) Women over 40, get a similar degree of contraceptive protection on a progesterone only ‘mini’ pill, as they would on the combined pill?
As women age, their natural fertility falls. This means less safe methods of contraception become safer.
In fact the newer POP’s ) Cerazette/Cerelle) have published failure rates in keeping with the combined pill anyway.
7) You do not have a 7 day break when you take the mini pill (Cerazette/Cerelle)?
Any of the progesterone only pills (POP’s) must be taken every day, with no 7 day break.
8) Female sterilisation is the best form of contraception for a woman after she has finished having babies?
In fact, female sterilisation usually involves a general anaesthetic, abdominal surgery and a scar. This is all subject to operative risk, and risk of infection, haemorrhage etc. In addition female sterilisation is irreversible. Plus the failure rate is 1 in 200 procedures!
Modern methods of contraception do not require a general anaesthetic . They are safe, reliable and reversible. All combined methods, progesterone only methods and Long Acting Reversible methods have lower failure rates than female sterilisation.
9) Weight gain is a side effect of taking the Combined pill?
Interesting that so many women still believe this is true. In fact in clinical studies, all women put on weight at a similar rate, even those not using hormonal contraception,, or those using a copper coil. There is an obesity epidemic in the UK that is not caused by contraception. Women tend to gain weight as they age whether they use contraception or not!
10) Contraception is needed until you are aged 55?
Fertility falls with age, and it is incredibly rare for a woman to get pregnant naturally aged over 55.
Daisy Mae x
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Daisy Mae Writer, doctor, Agony Aunt
1) There are now 15 different methods of contraception?
It can be confusing as there is now a wide variety of contraceptive choice.
All contraceptives are available, free of charge to women in the UK.
To make an appointment see your GP/practice nurse, or visit a Sexual Health Clinic https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/sexual-health-services/guide-to-sexual-health-services/