Do you know your stuff?

Do you know your stuff?

FPA sexual health week takes place from 12-18 September and this year the focus is on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), making this a good time to brush up on your safe sex knowledge. With that in mind, emergency contraception brand ellaOne® (ulipristal acetate) has put together a roundup of contraception tips and advice for your readers…

  • Oral: Yes, you can catch sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from oral sex, so make sure to use a condom if you aren't certain of your partner's sexual history
  • Lube up, but read the label first: Oil based lubricants used with latex condoms can weaken them and may cause them to split. Latex free condoms are also available
  • Double up on contraception: If you are using an ongoing contraceptive method such as the contraceptive pill, injection or implant, don't forget to also use a condom to protect yourself from contracting STIs
  • If you take a risk, take a test: If you have had unprotected sex you might be at risk of having an STI. If this might be the case, talk to your doctor, or another healthcare professional, about getting tested. The absence of symptoms doesn't mean you have the all clear
  • Take care of your condoms: Store condoms correctly ensuring they don't get too hot or damaged. Take special care around long finger nails and jewellery when taking condoms out of the packet.
  • Best before: Oh, and ensure that condoms are not past their use by date - yep they really do have a 'best before' date - so make sure you check it
  • Sickness and diarrhea: Vomiting or suffering from an upset stomach can reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill. If you vomit or have diarrhoea, you will need to use an additional method of contraception like a condom to make sure you're protected against pregnancy
  • Missed pill: Ensure you follow the correct guidance if you miss a contraceptive pill. See your pill pack leaflet for more information about your specific pill or contact your pharmacist if you are unsure
  • Flippant about fertility: Over two thirds of women (69%) wrongly believe it is possible to easily pinpoint the 'fertile window' and therefore avoid falling pregnant at this time.[i] However, ovulation is highly unpredictable and because of this, conception is possible during most of a woman's monthly cycle - this means there is no such thing as a 'risk free window' so make sure you use contraception if you don't want to fall pregnant.[ii]
  • The morning after: The emergency contraceptive pill is available from the pharmacy and can prevent pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex or your regular contraception has let you down. ellaOne® is the most effective morning after pill at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex

What to do if you've had a contraceptive mishap

Accidents can happen to anyone so if you've had unprotected sex or your contraception has let you down and it is not the right time in your life to have a baby, you are right to consider emergency contraception.

  • Morning after pills, also known as the emergency contraceptive pill, must be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex
  • The IUD (also known as the coil) is a plastic and copper device, and an alternative method of emergency contraception that is inserted into the uterus up to five days after unprotected sex. The IUD also provides an ongoing contraceptive solution
  • ellaOne® is the most effective morning after pill at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex

How does emergency contraception work?

  • Morning after pill: Works in a similar way to regular contraceptive pills by stopping the release of the egg therefore preventing the sperm and egg from ever meeting
  • IUD: The copper on the IUD stops the sperm from surviving in the cervix, uterus or fallopian tube so it cannot fertilise the egg. If fertilisation has already occurred, it can stop the fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus

Where do I get it?

  • Morning after pill: Directly from your pharmacist, without a prescription. Also available from your GP, Family Planning Clinic, walk-in centre, out of hours services or from some pharmacies online
  • IUD: Must be fitted by a specially trained healthcare professional. Speak to your doctor or local family planning clinic to find out where you can get the IUD fitted

What else do I need to know?

  • Morning after pills and the IUD do not protect against STIs
  • If you think you might be at risk of having an STI talk to your doctor, or another healthcare professional about getting tested.
  • Morning after pills will not protect you from pregnancy if you have unprotected sex again in the days following use
  • If you want to have sex after using emergency contraception, you should use a barrier method of contraception until your next period. This is because your fertility can come back very quickly

For more information please visit www.ellaone.co.uk

[i] ellaOne consumer research, Atomik Research, December 2015

[ii] Wilcox AJ et al. BMJ 2000; 321: 1259-62


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