Firstly, before you read on, I want to make it clear that good experiences of any type of medication do not invalidate bad experiences that have had horrific, and sometimes fatal, consequences. All I am attempting to do is clear up rumours and misconceptions, present the facts, and help provide unbiased information so that people can make informed decisions about their heath care and bodies. I understand that this is a sensitive topic area for many and so I hope I can do it justice by sheading some light on the posts floating around on social media recently.
I wanted to write this post after a friend sent me a screenshot of a post by someone on Facebook, calling for people to sign a petition for the removal of the combined contraceptive pill Rigevidon. This isn’t the first time that issues about specific pills have been brought up online with personal accounts. Click HERE to read a thread from 2013. My friend takes this pill and asked me if she should be concerned by the post and come off the pill, even though she hadn’t suffered any issues from taking it.
Rigevidon is a combined contraceptive pill, containing the same levels of oestrogen and progesterone as Microgynon, the most commonly prescribed pill. Unfortunately, the cases mentioned in the recent Facebook posts are a risks of being on a contraceptive pill, and in some of the cases, specifically the combined pill. I’ve tried to explain below some of the cases given in the Facebook post:
Miscarriage: While miscarriage is not common on the pill, it is not impossible. The pill is not a perfect miracle medicine and even if you use the perfect usage statistics, 1 in 100 people on the pill will get pregnant.* If you then look at typical usage (See my blog post HERE for more information on this) 8 in 100 people will become pregnant on the pill.** When you combine this with the statistic that 1 in 8 pregnancies end in miscarriage, you can see that it’s not as impossible as it seems to miscarriage whilst taking the pill….and not just Rigevidon, any contraceptive pill.***
Clots and strokes: This seems to be the biggest reason why people have campaigned to have this pill taken off UK prescriptions. Whilst the cases mentioned are upsetting and unfortunate, and my heart goes out to anyone who’s had to go through that, these people shouldn’t have been given a combined pill in the first place, Rigevidon or any other version. the FSRH guidance on the combined pill says “when prescribed appropriately the benefits of using combined hormonal contraception generally outweigh the risk of stroke. When prescribing CHC health professionals should be guided by the individual’s risk factors for stroke, any contraindications, possible noncontraceptive benefits, and experience with other contraceptive formulations.” Anyone with a family history of blood clotting or strokes should not be prescribed this pill. In addition to this, they should also not be prescribed it if they’ve ever had what is called migraine with aura (something about black spots with your vision which means you have an increased risk of strokes), or are on any other medication that can cause a higher risk of clotting. These are all listed in the medical leaflet that comes with Rigevidon.**** Whilst I understand that family medical history is not always known, those who are unaware should be closely monitoring their signs and symptoms, whilst making sure that they are taking the pill correctly.
Prescribed this pill with no warning of the consequences: As for this case, I can only guess malpractice. Whilst doctors and nurses are usually doing the best they can, with cuts to our health services they are pushed for time and funding. Medical professionals should have sufficient time to go through risks and potential consequences with patients and our education system should be teaching young people the skills they need to make informed decisions when it comes to contraception.
It is also worth mentioning that LARC doesn’t contain oestrogen and so doesn’t have the risks of blood clots and strokes, so if this is a big concern for you, maybe you should consider LARC as your option for a hormonal contraceptive.
I’m glad to see that there are petitions out there calling for funding and research to improve contraceptive options, but scaremongering and rumours won’t change sexual health services. We need data from research and people in the field who care about people with vaginas and not how heavy their money bags are.
Stay safe, stay sexy, and stay informed x
Edit: (06/09/2018 22:41) After speaking to DR Rebecca Heller, she’s provided me with some more information on the cases of strokes and clots and taking Rigevidon. She told me that “the pill essentially makes your blood more‘sticky’ so increases risk of a clot in your leg and lung, but also your brain (a stroke).” She also added that when it comes to family history “If people in your family have had a clot it may still be fine to take the pill. If a first degree relative over 45 has had a blood clot the benefits generally outweigh the risks…obviously in practice if there are risk factors such as a strong family history in second degree relatives the doctor or nurse would likely steer the patient away from contraception with oestrogen and suggest other options.”