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Common myths about the morning after pill

ellaone morning after pill

Emergency contraception or the morning after pill (MAP), whatever you call it, most women know it’s out there. But do you know how it works, how effective it is and how you can get hold of it? There are lots of misconceptions and outright confusion, so we’ve debunked the 10 most common myths

  1. There’s only one type of morning after pill

There are in fact two types of morning after pill available in the UK. The first contains ulipristal acetate (ellaOne) and the second contains levonorgestrel. Speak to a healthcare professional about the different types of morning after pill and their difference in effectiveness to ensure you can make an informed decision based on what’s most suitable for you.

  1. It’s difficult to get hold of

ellaOne is available in pharmacies across the UK, and there’s no need for a prescription, so you don’t have to take time out of your day to make a doctor’s appointment. It’s also possible to order online through Click & Collect, so it’s ready for you when you arrive at the pharmacy. Find a selection of reputable online pharmacies offering this service here*

  1. It can be used as a regular form of contraception

There isn’t a restriction on how often you can take the morning after pill, but it is not a regular form of contraception. It is only intended for occasional use after unprotected sex or if your contraception has failed, for example if the condom split or you have been sick after taking your usual hormonal contraception. There are 15 types of contraception available in the UK. Chat to your GP or healthcare professional to find out which type is best for you.

  1. The morning after pill ends pregnancy

It doesn’t terminate a pregnancy or cause an abortion. Morning after pills, like ellaOne, can help prevent a pregnancy from happening by delaying the release of a woman’ eggs (ovulation). This means that by the time an egg is released the sperm inside you is no longer able to make you pregnant.

  1. You’ll feel rubbish after you take it

Like all medicines the morning after pill can cause side effects for some people, but it’s generally well tolerated and many people won’t experience any side effects. The most common ones are headache, feeling sick, stomach pain and painful period cramps. Speak to a healthcare professional for more advice if you’re concerned by any side effects.

  1. It can affect long-term fertility

The morning after pill has been used for many years by millions of women without any significant long-term effects on fertility. In fact, research actually shows women are likely to quickly become fertile again after taking it, so you should use a barrier method of contraception, like a condom until your next period, even if you use a regular contraceptive pill.

  1. It only works the morning after

Although it’s best to take ellaOne as soon as possible after unprotected sex or a contraception failure, it is the only morning after pill that can prevent pregnancy up to five days afterwards.

  1. Asking a pharmacist for the morning after pill is embarrassing and they will want to know all the details

Pharmacists and their teams are specially trained to speak to women who want the morning after pill, and they do it all the time. If you’re worried about people overhearing your business, simply ask for ellaOne.

  1. It causes miscarriage if you’re already pregnant

ellaOne is an emergency contraceptive pill and not an abortion pill so will not interrupt an existing pregnancy. It acts to stop or delay ovulation to prevent the conception taking place in the first place.

  1. It doesn’t work in women who are overweight

ellaOne remains an effective morning after pill choice regardless of weight.

*Please note: If you require emergency contraception after unprotected sex, bear in mind that it is more effective the sooner it is taken. For this reason it is important that you choose a service that will ensure you can get emergency contraception as quickly as possible.

ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate. Take one tablet as soon as possible after unprotected sex or contraceptive mishap. Always read the label.

 

Tops tips for looking after yourself at festivals

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Festivals are a unique space in time when all your worries are left at home as you dance beneath the stars to your favourite artists with your best friends.

Thousands of people come together to celebrate music and enjoy the entertainment, but whether it’s your festival debut or you’re a veteran it’s important you look after yourself and those around you to get the most out of the experience.

Here are our top ten tips to make sure you have the ultimate festival weekend.

  1. When choosing a spot to pitch up, look for a well-lit area that is easily recognisable by a nearby post, such as a fire tower or food truck. This helps you to guide yourself back to the tent at night or ask for directions if you’re lost.
  2. It might sound obvious but remember what your tent looks like! Chances are there are 5,000 other blue tents with yellow ropes. Tie some coloured ribbons or a flag to the top so you know it’s definitely yours.
  3. You may not want to take your mobile with you in case you lose it or drop it in the mud, but it’s the safest way to stay in contact with your friends, and it’s so easy to get separated. Most sites have charging stations, or you can pack a portable battery pack so you never run out of juice. Plus how else are you going to update Instagram?
  4. If you’re feeling unwell or have any medical issues during the weekend a visit to the Medicine Man or other onsite medical tent will help you out. The Medicine Man offers help and advice and stocks a range of medical and healthcare products, including painkillers, cough and cold remedies, condoms and emergency contraception. Find him at V Fest (Chelmsford and Staffordshire), Leeds Fest and Bestival this August.
  5. Festivals are one of the friendliest places on earth but if you make new buddies, make sure your friends who you arrived with know where you are and who you are with.
  6. Keeping your energy levels up will help you to enjoy as much of the festival as possible. This means drinking lots of water so you stay hydrated (you’ll get used to the loos) and not skipping meals. Pack lots of high-energy snacks, such as flapjacks and bananas so you don’t have to rely on the burger van all weekend.
  7. Contraceptive mishaps can happen anywhere, including festivals. It’s important to practise safe sex to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy, so carry condoms in your bag or wallet. If you forget to pack them visit an onsite pharmacy, such as The Medicine Man who will also stock emergency contraception, if you should need to take the morning after pill. Alternatively you can order ellaOne, the UK’s most effective morning after pill, prior to going away so you can pack it and take it with you. Being prepared is always a good idea.
  1. Never leave your drink unattended, even if it’s just a soft drink or bottle of water, as these too can be targets for drug and alcohol spiking.
  2. Baby wipes and antibacterial gel are a festival must-have. Not only for those times when you don’t have access to a shower but for cleaning mud and germs after eating or falling over in the mud. Last thing you want is to catch a bug while you’re away.
  3. Alcohol can seriously affect your judgement and ability to make decisions and assess situations. Know your limits when it comes to consumption so that you’re always able to make safe and informed decisions.

 

ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, always read the label.

Your reproductive system through the decades

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My body is changing, am I normal? The main function of the female reproductive system is to produce hormones and sex cells, but as we age a number of natural changes occur.

Even though you might be familiar with how your body looks and feels, many women are unaware of what actually happens to the reproductive system as they age.

Here’s a guide to what you can expect:

Teens

Puberty normally kicks in between the ages of 8 and 13. During the puberty cycle, your body releases hormones that stimulate the ovaries, enabling them to start producing oestrogen. The release of oestrogen results in a girl’s body changing into a woman’s body. Most women will have developed breasts and started having periods by 16.

Did you know? As your body produces more oestrogen, it begins the process of sexual maturity, meaning that your breasts start to grow, your periods will start and you’re also prone to spot outbreaks and mood swings.

Early 20s

Now that puberty has passed, things get a little easier for a while. Periods become more regulated, but of the 1-2 million eggs you were born with, you now have 100 -200 thousand eggs remaining. Don’t worry though, as when it comes to reproducing it’s about quality over quantity, and in your early 20s egg quality is still very high.

Did you know? You are at your most fertile in your early 20s, so it is imperative to be extra cautious when it comes to contraception.

Late 20s

As you get closer to the 30 mark, you will experience a slight dip in fertility. Egg quality is still high, but the chance of getting pregnant within a year is around 75%.

Did you know? Due to an increased level of the hormone prostaglandin in your body, period cramps can become more intense at this age.

 30s

Reproduction opportunities slow down when women head into their 30s, as we produce fewer eggs than in the 20s. As women move into their late 30s, the odds of conceiving within 12 months reduces and the odds of miscarriage can increase.

Did you know? While your fertility begins to decrease your libido will do the exact opposite. Studies* have shown that women reach their sexual prime in their 30s, while men reach theirs in their 20s.

Early 40s

A woman’s odds of conceiving a child with the chromosomal disorder Down Syndrome increases to one in 100 when in the 40s.

Did you know? Lower oestrogen levels in your early 40s mean that you’ll be prone to vaginal dryness and UTI’s. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as the lower levels of oestrogen also mean that your periods become less frequent.

After 45

Although not impossible, fewer women will have a successful full-term pregnancy and the odds of conceiving a child with Down Syndrome jump to 1 in 30.  This is also the age when menopausal changes can begin, which can carry on until 65. Oestrogen and progesterone levels drop which results in a thinning of the urethral and vaginal walls.

Did you know? The menopause is responsible for many changes happening to your body after 45.  These include hot flushes, mood swings and decreased libido.

 

*Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Institute for Sex

8 awkward questions you were afraid to ask about…. Periods

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  1. Why is the blood a brownish colour at the start of a period?

A brownish colour usually indicates that it’s just older blood coming out, but it’s nothing to worry about. Most likely it’s some of the uterus lining left over from your last period, or you might just shed the lining at a slower rate so the blood turns brown before you see it on your tampon.

  1. Why does it sometimes smell a bit fishy downstairs during a period?

The blood itself doesn’t usually smell, but when it mixes with bacteria and sweat you might start to notice an unwelcome aroma. Changing your tampon or sanitary pad frequently to stop blood building up will really help, as will regular showers. But don’t be tempted to use harsh soaps, gently does it when you’re dealing with your delicate lady bits.

  1. Do orgasms really help period pain?

The great news is they do! Monthly cramps are caused by the uterus contracting to shed the endometrial lining. So those involuntary muscle spasms you feel in your body when things reach fever pitch, can help the uterus shed its lining more effectively and relieve the cramping. And if that wasn’t enough your body produces a hormone called oxytocin during sex, which acts like a natural pain reliever. Result!

  1. Are heavy periods something to worry about?

Some women just experience heavier periods which is usual for them, but if things suddenly change and your period gets heavier and stops you doing things, then speak to your GP about it. They will check there is nothing else going on such as fibroids and may be able to offer a change to your regular contraceptive pill to reduce the monthly bleed.

  1. Are large blood clots during a period something to worry about?

It’s not uncommon to experience blobs of blood up to the size of a cherry, particularly during the heavier days of your period. This is just a sign that your uterus lining is shedding particularly quickly. If however you start to get bigger blobs, or you are worried then speak to your GP about it. They will probably want to check for anaemia if you’re losing quite a bit of blood.

  1. Can you get pregnant during a period?

Irregular periods mean that you can experience bleeding at different times in your cycle, including while you’re ovulating, which means you can still get pregnant. What’s more, because sperm can live for up to five days inside the female reproductive tract, the window of conception opportunity gets even bigger. If you’ve had unprotected sex during your period or your usual form of contraception has failed and you don’t want to fall pregnant, you might want to consider using an emergency contraceptive. ellaOne is a morning after pill which contains ulipristal acetate – always read the label.

 

  1. Why do toilet habits change during a period?

During your period, the body produces hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which is the sign to the uterus to start contracting and shed the lining. These same prostaglandins send a similar message to your bowels, which is why you can feel the need to go urgently and more frequently, sometimes with looser poo. If there are less prostaglandins, then that can cause constipation.

  1. Are there any alternatives to tampons and sanitary pads?

If you want to be more environmentally friendly and save money you can try reusable pads. Just throw them in the washing machine after every wear and they are ready to use again. You can also try a menstrual cup. These are little devices that sit inside your vagina to catch blood. You then remove the cup and rinse it out before replacing it. Alternatively, you can try wearable period pants – knickers which are designed to absorb blood without the need for a separate pad. The pants are then just washed as normal and used again.

Read about your choices here.