We've been talking for a while about our bid to change the way people access contraception in the UK. Yes, after months of anticipation, hard work and testing the service with users of sexual and reproductive health services, online oral contraception is finally here (woo hoo!).
For the first time in UK history, people in Lambeth and Southwark can now order free oral contraception online and have it to delivered to them within a working day of their order (you get it next day if you order by 12md!). If you are over the age of 16, you can order either the combined pill or progestogen only pill depending what method is best for you. We recommend all users read the information pages on each type of oral contraception before making their choice:
Progestogen only pill
How does it work?
Well, since you ask - we’ve drawn the process up for you for each type of contraception:
Is this safe?
The service has been developed with the input of some of the UK’s leading reproductive health specialists. It’s also been examined through a hefty (but useful) peer review process and had the scrutiny of an external team of lawyers. We have also talked to lots of people who use contraception to find out how they would use this sort of service and what information they would like to have throughout the order process. Importantly, the questions you are asked are the same ones that the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) recommend that GPs and clinicians ask. The FSRH are part of The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the UK’s experts in reproductive health.
There are some risks associated with oral contraception, however we have made every effort to ensure that any risk factors affecting an individual are investigated by one of our clinicians before a prescription is approved. Our health assessment will flag up if you have a risk factor that might affect your experience with the pill and a clinician will either text you call you to speak with you, no matter how small that risk might be. All prescriptions need to be signed by one of our GMC registered doctors before the pharmacy can issue the prescription and dispatch the pills. If the oral contraception you’ve chosen isn’t suitable for you, we’ll discuss your other options and help you find somewhere you can access them.
What are the benefits of ordering my contraception this way?
We’re hoping it will save you (and your doc) a huge amount of time. No more waiting on the phone to reach the GP’s reception, no more GP appointments and no more queuing outside the local clinic when you’ve only got a half day off work and there’s no guarantee of being seen. A comprehensive, yet easy to answer online assessment, can be completed on mobile phones, tablets or computers, intuitively walking you through the same questions that you would be asked by a GP. You can also return to the site for a longer repeat prescription if everything goes ok with your first 3 month pack, so that’s another appointment we’ve saved you. Support from trained clinicians is available before you decide to order, during your order and afterwards - so whether you’d like to talk by text or on the telephone there’s expert help and advice on hand.
The other benefit is the cost to the NHS - we can do it for less than half of what it costs the NHS to see your GP to get contraception. This not only saves the NHS money, but frees up appointments in GPs diaries, meaning they can focus on patients who need face-to-face care.
Tips to get the best from our online oral contraception service:
- Read up on your options. Last year we put together information pages on every form of contraception available on the NHS in the UK. They are really easy to use and explain everything you might want to know like potential side effects and effectiveness (both perfect and imperfect use) of different methods as well as how they are taken and affect your body so you can decide if it’s right for you and your lifestyle.
- Have your measurements ready. If you’ve decided the combined pill (the pill) is the one for you, you’ll need to take your blood pressure before starting an order. You can do this at GP surgeries, some local pharmacies (see our map below) and if you have your own kit or know someone that does, at home. You’ll also need to know your weight and height too so have them all to hand when you start your form.
- Ask us for help. If there is anything you don’t understand or are unsure of we’re only a webchat, email or text away. One of our clinicians or sexual health support workers will be able to support you, confidentially, no matter what stage of the order process you are at.
Our online contraception service is in beta and part of a study evaluating online and in-person contraception services. Researchers at King’s College London are conducting the Contraception in person-Contraception online study (CiP-CO), looking at how women living in Lambeth and Southwark access and experience different contraception services. Online questionnaires will examine local residents' access to contraception and how use of different services impacts their knowledge and continuation of the pill. This information will be invaluable to our evaluation by allowing us to compare outcomes between new pill users accessing traditional clinics and those using SH:24's new online contraception service. All users of contraception service are invited to participate in the study but participation is entirely optional. Participants in the study receive up to £15 as a goodwill gesture for their time.
It is our hope we’ll be able to bring this service across the UK very soon but if you want online oral contraception to be available in your area do tell us!
If you live in Lambeth or Southwark you can order now: