Mallory (mallory_x) wrote in vaginapagina,

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UK Trial - Contraceptive pill without prescription

I haven't seen this posted and thought it would make an interesting discussion. I just found an article on the BBC website about a pilot scheme in London to make HBC available in pharmacies. The scheme is intended to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate, which in this area is the highest in the UK. The idea is that when someone speaks to a pharmacist to request emergency contraception (EC), they either have the discussion about contraceptive choices there and then, or make an appointment for a more convenient time.

This article on the NHS site for the area makes it clear that the consultations are not just to hand out the pill, but to discuss contraceptive options including condoms and long-term methods such as IUD, IUS (Mirena), injectables and implants. They will also offer information and screening for STDs/STIs.

On one hand, I think that anything that encourages women to think about their sexual health, and to not rely on EC, is a good thing. Britain has a shockingly high rate of teenage pregnancy, and we really need to do something about it. I know that education must be the answer - education about relationships, about choices and responsibilities, as well as the 'insert Tab A into Slot B' style of sex education. I'm just not convinced that the stuff taught in schools is doing it's job (no offence, teachers!).

On the other hand, the poster in the BBC article makes me think of washing powder, and seems a bit...casual? It also seems aimed mainly at those who need emergency contraception - surely the main priority should be trying to reduce the number of women and girls needing EC in the first place?

I'm also concerned that despite training, the pharmacists may not have the clinical knowledge or experience required to give appropriate information to everyone. I remember once going to get EC and the young male pharmacist blushing as he asked me all the relevant questions. I don't think he would have been particularly suited to doing a consultation with a nervous 16 year old!

(I should point out that in the UK it is not necessary to have a smear test/pelvic exam prior to being prescribed HBC, even by a doctor. Women who are not high risk are not called for their first smear until they are 25.)

So VPers, what do you think?
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