The NHS is changing their guidelines on how to take the contraceptive pill from the current ‘three weeks on, one week off’ suggestion to taking it every day of the month.
The original guidelines to take the week off was brought in decades ago to appease the Catholic Church in an effort to make the pill fit with women’s natural menstrual cycle and have now been dismissed by the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) who state that there is no health benefit to taking the break.
Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health, John Guillebaud explained that “the gynaecologist John Rock devised [the break] because he hoped that the Pope would accept the pill and make it acceptable for Catholics to use.
“Rock thought if it did imitate the natural cycle then the Pope would accept it.”
In a paper published last year, Professor Guillebaud stated his disagreement with the way the contraceptive pill had been prescribed for the last 60 years.
The FSRH, who is in charge of setting national guidelines for safe contraceptive prescriptions, have suggested that the number of unwanted pregnancies will decrease if the pill is taken every day.
Vice President for Clinical Quality at the FSRH, Dr Diana Mansour, stated: “The guideline suggests that by taking fewer hormone-free intervals – or shortening them to four days – it is possible that women could reduce the risk of getting pregnant on combined hormonal contraception.”
There are other benefits to taking the contraceptive pill every day, such as the reduction of menstrual migraines and other conditions associated with the hormonal cycle. Women can even become amenorrhoeic – which is to stop experiencing menstruation at all – after six months of continuous use.
The changes to these guidelines are expected to make full-year contraceptive pill prescriptions easier to obtain.