Treatments and appointments for people on birth control are being cancelled amidst the coronavirus pandemic, as surgeries across the country deem them non-essential.
In usual circumstances, new users of the contraceptive pill are required to have a blood pressure reading before being prescribed the drugs. Similarly, those using the combined pill also require a blood pressure reading to obtain a six month repeat supply of the contraceptive.
However, with the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus spreading across the globe, these are not usual circumstances.
Can I still get the pill without going to the doctor?
GPs have been stopping face to face appointments for patients not deemed at risk, opting instead for phone and video calls in an attempt to control the virus.
According to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FRSH), if you are new to the contraceptive pill, you now only need to obtain a blood pressure reading at home, with the guidance of doctors over the phone.
While, if you are a repeat user, you no longer require a reading in order to be prescribed your next batch.
What about other forms of contraception?
FRSH has also recently issued guidance for people using other forms of contraception during this time.
Many people who are part way through a series of scheduled contraceptive injections, as well as those who need to have their implants and IUDs (intrauterine devices) replaced, are now being told they must wait, as the NHS struggles under the pressure of Covid-19.
So far the cancelled appointments have not been rearranged.
Addressing the issue of IUD and implants now overdue for replacement, FRSH has stated in their official guidance that the length of time these can remain unchanged has now been extended by one year.
Speaking with the Metro, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson commented, “Even in these unprecedented times, it is essential that the public receive the best possible birth control and contraception services.
“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare have published clinical advice to support ongoing provision of effective contraception and we ask that health professionals supplying contraception to work to this advice.”
Those on alternative contraceptives are now being prescribed the oral pill instead, in the meantime.
Criticism for official guidance
This has caused many to criticise the decision, as it overlooks the various reasons contraceptives are taken, as well as the debilitating effects that can occur through swapping contraceptives.
One such critic is Gynaecologist Doctor Shree Datta who, speaking to the Metro, commented, “Changing to the pill can lead to side effects, for example, a change in period duration and heaviness.
“Women who have high blood pressure, previous breast cancer or have had a DVT [deep vein thrombosis] or blood clot in their lungs may not be suitable for the combined contraceptive pill, so a risk assessment before prescribing the pill, the pill type and dose is very important.”
While a spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists stated that, although it’s understandable that the NHS is focusing on the pandemic, it is crucial contraceptive services remain in place.
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