SH:24 launches ground-breaking online contraception support

 The Pill or What? offers support to users looking to make informed choices about contraception

The Pill or What? offers support to users looking to make informed choices about contraception

New peer-to-peer forum The Pill or What? offers personalised contraception advice with accurate clinical support in the wake of funding cuts to sexual health services.

  • Almost a quarter (24%) of women in the UK have relied upon the same method of contraception for more than 10 years without switching.*

  • Concerns about health risks and side-effects are amongst the commonest reasons for stopping or switching contraception methods, but fewer than 25% of those decisions were influenced by a medical professional.**

  • The Pill or What? combines the accessibility and creativity of a discussion forum with accurate clinical advice, offering a solution for people unable to find the personalised contraception advice they’ve sought elsewhere

The Pill or What? is a new discussion forum supported by clinicians and powered by users. It goes beyond the often static, generic information about contraception found online by offering space to explore choices, ask questions and make decisions.

The Pill or What? aims to harness the power of the peer-to-peer forum but adds in the moderation of a clinical specialist. In this way, users can feel safe to ask questions and share experiences, but get professional advice if they need it or if there are conflicting opinions amongst the peer group.

It is now part of a set of resources SH:24 now offers to help people make contraceptive choices – information, webchat, answering questions by text message or phone.

Dr Paula Baraitser is a consultant in sexual health at King’s College Hospital, specialising in women’s health and contraception. She developed The Pill or What? at SH:24 in response to the popularity of a wide variety of unmoderated online discussion forums. She said:

“The popularity amongst people who go online to seek advice around their contraception choices indicates that clinical advice alone does not currently go far enough to address this issue. Giving health professionals the time to offer a personalised approach, even if symptoms and concerns don’t fit with standard guidance, is increasingly necessary.

“We want to help people make choices with information that they understand, trust and which makes sense for them and their own experience – not static, standardised information which doesn’t allow for the uniqueness of each body and each lifestyle.

We’re trying to make contraception easier, reduce anxiety, and let people talk while we listen, so that those positive stories start to rise to the top.
— Dr Pauls Baraitser, SH:24

“My GP on the whole was quite useless!”

Jo, 38, works in digital communications and is married with two children. She was on the combined pill for many years in her teens and twenties until discovering it was making her miserable, switching to other methods ever since.

“Through that entire time, I remember feeling angry, emotional and depressed. I went to the GP a few times and was prescribed anti-depressants. I had no idea my pill might be causing it.

My GP on the whole was quite useless. I remember one of them telling me to use my weekends to sleep instead of going out and that should help!
— Jo, 38

“I didn’t really go online much back then, it was more trial and error. I decided to come off the Pill when I was in my mid-twenties and that feeling disappeared overnight. I’ve tried again since and it comes back almost instantly. It has an awful effect on me.


“Since 25 I’ve used condoms and in relationships, the rhythm method. And I’ve avoided unwanted pregnancies until I wanted kids and then got pregnant right away, twice!”

Visit www.thepillorwhat.org to find out more or search for #ThePOW on Twitter and Facebook.

Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries, comments interviews or case studies, please contact Nicola Miller, Head of Communications & Engagement at SH:24 at nicola@sh24.org.uk or call 07909 922 122

Available for media on request:

- case studies with further quotes and details

- interviews and comments from Dr Paula Baraitser

- images and further comments

*A UK wide survey of 550 women by Zava research

**Research published by Contessa in Contraception Journal, January 2015


Notes to Editors:

For media enquiries, comments interviews or case studies, please contact Nicola Miller, Head of Communications & Engagement at SH:24 at nicola@sh24.org.uk or call 07909 922 122

Available for media on request:

- case studies with further quotes and details

- interviews and comments from Dr Paula Baraitser

- images and further comments

*A UK wide survey of 550 women by Zava research

**Research published by Contessa in Contraception Journal, January 2015