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One million women in the UK may be on the wrong contraceptive pill

A new study takes issue with access and misinformation surrounding birth control

It’s the medication prescribed to on average 3.5 million British women a year, and approximately 200 million women globally. Now, new research has emerged that almost a third of women in the UK could be taking a pill incompatible to their body and health.

The study, conducted by online doctor and medical provider service Zava and research agency Intrinsic Insight, found that as many as 3.3 million women in the UK have experienced regular unnecessary side effects and symptoms, repercussions which occur when a pill is not suited for your body.

The research also found nearly a third of women who experience these side effects haven’t told a medical professional, meaning they could be on a pill that’s unsuitable for them without realising it. Incorrect side effects can include migraines, weight changes, irregular bleeding, acne, stomach problems, mental health issues and a loss of sex drive, according to the NHS. While the NHS do advise that some of these symptoms can expected within first use of the pill, it does also advise explicitly to discontinue usage if the symptoms persevere. It’s evidence of an ongoing issue surrounding women’s health, alongside backward historic ideologies that still define how women percieve and consume the pill, with many women still feeling although they have to conform to dated stigma surrounding the medication.

Dr Louisa Draper, a medical director at Zava, spoke to Refinery29: “It’s clear that women need access to more information when it comes to their contraception. It’s a confused picture, supported by our own patients who often come to us after repeatedly suffering from contraceptive pill side effects. The new guidelines give us the opportunity to start a renewed conversation about contraception. A woman’s contraception should suit her individual lifestyle and requirements, without a detrimental effect on her health. Whilst there are other methods of contraception available, the pill remains the most popular for British women, so if women want to take the pill, let’s make sure it’s the right one”.

This could be highlighting a more progressive time for women-centred health and medicine, as it follows the recent news that a contraceptive patch that lasts six months is being developed by scientists in the US. Even without the stats and studies, we know the pill can fuck up your mental health.