While the pill is undoubtedly a fantastic and reliable form of contraceptive, its effectiveness can dramatically decrease if you don’t take it correctly or if you miss a pill.
To help you stay on track, female health app Clue (helloclue.com) has introduced a new smart pill tracking technology that allows users to track their pill, clearly displaying the days when the user may need additional protection (for example if they have taken their pill incorrectly or in conjunction with other medication), and offering on-demand advice, tailored to your specific pill, on what you should do if you forget to take one.
Anna Druet, research scientist at Clue, explains the reasons why it’s important to track your pill.
Every pill is different – There are so many varieties of the pill available, and for some it can take a while to find one that works. By tracking a new pill, and symptoms you can see exactly how it is impacting you and make an informed decision about whether you are happy with it, or whether a different pill might be better for you.
It reminds you to take it – As great as the pill is, it only works if you take it correctly. But with increasingly busy schedules, it’s easy to forget one here and there. When tracking your pill in the app, it will send you helpful reminders to tell you when it’s time to take your next one. Tracking your pill daily will make it habitual and routine, meaning you will be more inclined to take it at the right time.
It helps you understand what’s happening in your body - It’s common to be prescribed the pill without being given an understanding of what it does, and how it works. The app’s pill tracking feature and accompanying in-app text gives you a simple way to understand what is changing in your body when you take the pill. It also helps you understand what can change when you miss pills, or take them late.
It lets you know when you may be unprotected from pregnancy – If you do miss pills, depending on the type of contraceptive pill you are taking, you may need to use extra protection on certain days throughout your cycle. If you track your pill correctly, the app will display the days on which you will need to use additional contraception, such as condoms, and if you might consider talking to your doctor about emergency contraception.
It can help make your pill more effective – To make sure the pill is as effective as it possibly can be, it is best to take it at the exact same time each day. Tracking it with an app that offers helpful reminders increases the likelihood of this.
It can help you monitor your mood – New research found a small number of people experience significant mood changes with hormonal birth control. Whether you notice no change, subtle changes, or something more, it’s helpful to understand how a pill is affecting you. By tracking your pill and your mood alongside your pill cycle, you can better recognise any changes. If your pill is drastically affecting how you feel, speak to your doctor who can offer alternative forms of contraception that may work better for you.
It’s useful when you’re going on holiday – When going on a relaxing holiday, being on your period is not ideal. By tracking your pill and cycle, you will be able to see if your bleeding week overlaps with when you’ll be away, allowing you to decide whether you would prefer to forgo the usual hormonal-pill break and run your packs together that month. You might even schedule your holiday around your pill schedule!
You can see how it affects your skin – The hormones in the pill can affect your skin and symptoms of acne (one reason some people take the pill). In the app, you can track the quality of your skin, meaning you can see how a pill is affecting your skin, and whether it is olier, drier, clearer or less clear.
To keep track of any irregular bleeding – Unscheduled bleeding while on the pill isn’t uncommon; for example, you may initially experience spotting when taking a new pill or if you miss a pill. But continued spotting can mean a pill isn’t a good fit for you, hormonally. It’s advisable to visit your healthcare provider if this is something you notice - bring along your ‘cycle report’ history.
You can see how it interacts with other medication – Certain supplements and medications can make your pill less effective, like Saint John’s Wort and enzyme-inducing medications (despite mixed advice online, most antibiotics will not reduce the efficacy of your pill, with the exception of enzyme-inducing antibiotics such as rifampicin/rifampin). Tracking any medication you are taking, alongside your pill, as well as any symptoms you are experiencing, will help keep on top of what’s causing what, and give you a record of when you started and stopped a new medication.