How To Get Hold Of The Pill If You Can't Get To The Pharmacy
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With many GPs closing for non-essential appointments, some 3.1 million women in the UK using the contraception have been left unclear about what to do if they're close to finishing their packet.
Does picking up our pill count as an essential appointment? Are we still required to get blood tests for repeat prescriptions? How do I pick up my pill while social distancing? Can I get it online?
These are just some of the questions women are asking, and the official guidance is super muddy at best.
To clear it up, Tyla is tackling some of the main questions about getting your pill and other contraception during lockdown. Read on...
Can I still get my pill from my GP or clinic?
Most people get their pill from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics or from pharmacies with a prescription from their GP.
However, as a result of the new government guidelines surrounding Covid-19, there are now major restrictions in face-to-face contact with health care professionals.
You'll know this already if you has an appointment booked at the doctors - many deemed 'non-essential' have been cancelled or conducted over the phone.
Health care services widely vary depending on which one you use, so there's no hard and fast rule for all. This means it's a good idea to call up your specific GP or local sexual health clinic to find out how they're operating.
Some GPs and clinics are offering pick-up services, while others are introducing no contact measures, for people to pick up their prescriptions safety.
What if I can't get to a GP or clinic?
It's important to remember that you shouldn't enter a medical care or health setting if you have any coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with someone with them.
If this is you, your only options are to come off the pill temporarily, or get it online.
SH:24 offers contraception online in partnership with the NHS. The service allows people to order their pill online by submitting their blood pressure reading and completing a short questionnaire.
However, as SH:24 is commissioned by NHS local authorities, the types of services that are available (from contraception to STI tests), differ from district to district depending on their budgets. In some areas, online contraception is not available.
A SH:24 spokesperson explained to Tyla that over 10,000 people per month were trying to access its services in areas where we were not commissioned, so they set up sister company Fettle Health.
Similarly, Fettle Health is a contraceptive service which allows people to buy the pill online at affordable prices by submitting their blood pressure reading and answering a few questions, warning 'your health may be at risk if you provide inaccurate answers'.
This service is only for people on the pill already, and should not be used by people starting for the first time, as the latter should receive a proper blood test from the GP beforehand.
While the combined pill is free on the NHS, a six month supply via Fettle costs £24.50.
What other provisions are being made for people on the pill?
Despite appointments are being cut and the healthcare service pushed to its limits under extreme pressure of Covid-19, effective contraception (which may include a bridging method in the short term) and emergency contraception are still considered "priority services".
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FRSH) has issued new guidance for contraception, making it easier for women to get their prescriptions during this time.
The key points state:
- Combined pill users will no longer need their blood pressure rechecked before being prescribed a 6-12 month supply of pills.
- First-time pill users will be allowed to be prescribed it remotely, including a self-reported blood pressure check.
- For women due to have their implant replaced, implant replacement can be deferred for a year after expiry to avoid unnecessary face-to-face contact. This is provided women are made aware "effectiveness cannot be guaranteed but is likely to be adequate".
- For women who have the coil, they should use extra conception like condoms from the date of its expiry. In terms of having it removed, the FRSH state: "There is no indication to bring users in at this time to remove expired Cu-IUD unless they wish to become pregnant, have significant signs of infection or have serious adverse side effects."