Here’s What To Do If You Forget Your Contraceptive Pill On Holiday
Toothbrush? Check. Sun cream? Check. Cute new cossie? Double check. Contraceptive pill? Oh crap.
We've all been there - in the stress and excitement of packing your bags and jetting off to paradise you're bound to forget something. But when that something is those all-important pills that stop you from falling pregnant or getting your period in the middle of aqua aerobics, it's not exactly ideal.
Obviously keeping consistent with your birth control is vital to its effectiveness but don't worry too much - we called in the experts to talk about your options if you turn up on the other side of the world without your contraception.
Firstly, don't panic. While your protection against pregnancy will be compromised, it's highly unlikely you'll bleed the whole time you're away. "It depends where you are in the pack," explains Dr Kathryn Basford from UK-based online doctor Zava UK. "You may have some spotting or bleeding similar to your monthly bleed" - the key word here being "some".
"Depending on how long you're away, you may notice some side effects of coming off the pill such as mood swings or changes to your skin or weight. But this should all go back to normal once you're back home and start back up with your pill again," she added.
While the UK is still in the EU then help could also be at hand, too, as a prescription dispensed by your doctor is valid in all EU countries. "It's just worth remembering that the medication might not be available for might have a different name," added Dr Kathryn.
When you do finally get home to your trusted pill, it's also important to remember that if you've missed two or more pills in a row then your protection against pregnancy is likely to be affected, so you should use condoms for seven days after you've started taking it again.
"When you get home, take the last pill you missed as well as your pill for that day, leave any other missed pills and carry on with the rest of the pack as normal," advises Dr Kathryn. "If there are more than seven pills left before the end of the pack, continue to take them and then take your break as normal. If there are less than 7 pills left in the pack, finish the pack and then start a new pack straight away, without taking a break."
Ok, so that answers that, but we still have questions, like can we use our pill to prevent our periods from coming on whilst we're away?
"If you take the combined pill, it's possible to delay your period by taking the pill 'back to back' - in other words, skipping the break when you finish a pack and moving straight on to the next one," explains our expert. "In fact, the most recent guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests that for most people, the monthly break isn't always necessary. There may be a couple of side effects from this such as nausea, diarrhoea or some spotting, but apart from that in most cases it's perfectly healthy."
However, if you're on the progesterone-only then this method won't work but there are other methods you can use, such as period delay medication which is available from your GP or online at Zava UK.
Fab. And how about if we realise we're going to run out of our pill while on holiday, can we borrow from our friends?
"It's not a good idea to share contraceptive pills," she adds. "You should only take medication that is prescribed specifically for you, and depending what pill your friend is on, it may not be suitable for you, or may cause side effects. Plus, you'll be leaving your friend without enough pills to get to the end of her cycle, potentially leaving her at risk of pregnancy, too."
Ok, condoms it is then.
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