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18th October 2016

Alternatives to the contraceptive pill

Following the headlines about the possible side effects of the contraceptive pill, Shannon Winterbone considers other alternatives available to young women

A new Danish study has hit our headlines recently, leaving some women asking, “How has this taken so long to happen?” and others wondering, “Is this really true?” The study links the use of the contraceptive pill—one of the most popular forms of contraception in the UK—to depression. The study does not show a causal link between the two, but rather a worrying association.

The pill changes the hormonal balance in a woman’s body to regulate menstrual cycles and prevent pregnancy, but the study shows that it could also be affecting the mental wellbeing of many women.

As students, we have access to various counselling services and support from the university, but there are also many contraceptive alternatives available that some of us may not have considered using before. It is important that we are aware that these contraceptives do not protect you from any STIs, and it is a good idea to speak to your doctor before making any changes to the contraception you’re using.

IUD coil: The coil is inserted into the womb to prevent fertilised eggs from implanting in the uterine wall. The procedure takes around fifteen minutes and lasts from five to ten years—once the device is removed, your fertility will return to normal immediately. For the first three to six months your period may become unsettled, but after this time, everything will be back to normal again.

The implant: The implant is a small device inserted into your upper arm which lasts for up to three years and can be taken out at any time if you are having any difficulties with it or should you wish to get pregnant. It is important to consider that for the first year or so, your periods could last much longer than usual or even stop completely. This is not harmful, but it is just your body’s way of getting used to the extra hormones. However, it could potentially be disruptive.

Contraceptive injection: Given as an injection in your arm, this form of contraception lasts for around three months and acts in a similar manner to the implant. Although it only lasts for a short period of time, it can be a good way of testing whether the implant would be a good fit for you and your body. When used for a prolonged period of time, the injection can disrupt periods; but again, your body will settle back into its normal rhythm soon.

These procedures are available at Bodey Medical Centre in Fallowfield, the Hathersage Centre on Upper Brook Street, and the Owens Park Surgery in Fallowfield if you would like to get the injection.

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