This blog is written by Fiona, our Pharmacist in Shamrock Plaza. Stop in and say hello to her or your nearest McCauley Pharmacist as they are here to help.
The Department of Health (DoH) has launched a public consultation on access to contraception in Ireland. The aim of this consultation process is to get the views of as many people as possible on:
“The introduction of a scheme for the provision of the most effective method of contraception, free of charge and having regard to personal circumstances, to all people who wish to avail of them within the State.” (DoH)
This public discussion about contraception prompted me to think about my role, as a Pharmacist, in advising women on their contraceptive choices. Like most Pharmacists, I have been supplying the morning after pill or emergency hormonal contraception for many years now. During every consultation, I advise women to discuss their ongoing contraceptive needs with their doctors and I inform them of the different options available. This is an essential element of the service we provide at McCauley Health and Beauty Pharmacy.
Here are some the most common questions that I am asked:
What is the best form of contraception?
There is no simple answer to this question because every woman is different. There are many forms of contraception available and most of them are only available on prescription for the moment. Contraceptives can be divided into two main groups:
- Barrier methods (e.g. condoms)
- Hormonal contraception (e.g. the combined pill, patch or implant)
Women have different needs and priorities. Some women value reliability, while others are more concerned about convenience. Some people don’t like injections, but others have difficulty remembering to take tablets. Cost is a factor for some. Finally, age, other medical conditions, family history and smoking all impact on the choices available to you. It is worth emphasising that some forms of contraception are not recommended for women who smoke, especially if the woman is over 35 years of age. If you do smoke, quitting is possibly the single best thing you can do for your health! See www.quit.ie for more information. Finally, using condoms correctly is the best way to reduce your risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Where can I get reliable information about contraception?
It is useful to find out about different types of contraception before you make a final decision on the best form for you. There are many sources of information available. Sexualwellbeing.ie is a HSE website with lots of useful information. B4udecide.ie is targeted at a younger audience. Another option is The Irish Family Planning Association website. These sites also provide useful information about preventing and treating sexually transmitted infections. They are not designed to replace medical advice so you should also ask your Pharmacist, GP or practice nurse.
In my experience, people can be embarrassed about talking to their Pharmacists about sexual health and contraception. Remember, every McCauley Pharmacy has a consultation room where you can have a private, confidential conversation with your Pharmacist. Your concerns are important to us and our aim is to help to you make the best choices for your health.
When can I take emergency hormonal contraception?
Many people refer to emergency hormonal contraception as the morning after pill. It is available from pharmacies without a prescription (free of charge to women with a full medical card). Emergency hormonal contraception can be taken up to 3 days (Norlevo®) or 5 days (Ellaone®) after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, the sooner it is taken the better. McCauley Pharmacy’s opening hours make it easy and convenient to access emergency hormonal contraception when you need it. If you use emergency hormonal contraception, it is vital to use a barrier method for the rest of your cycle and to discuss your ongoing contraceptive needs with your GP.
I hope that this information is useful. If you have any other questions about contraception, talking to your pharmacist is a good place to start.
Finally, if you would like to take part in the public discussion on access to contraception in Ireland, you can click here to share your thoughts. The deadline for the public consultation is August 5th.