Why A Three Month Pill Script Might Make You More Likely To Accidentally Fall Pregnant
Anyone using the contraceptive pill knows getting a new script from your doctor every three to four months is a real pain.
It means a trip to your GP where there is no doubt a wait and then an additional visit to the chemist to get it filled.
So it's not surprising in our increasingly busy lives, it's something that can fall to the bottom of the to-do list. But doing so could leave you open to the chance of falling pregnant by accident.
Dr Ryan Harvey told 10 daily that it is not uncommon for women to miss a pill or lapse with their contraception, resulting in accidental pregnancy.
"I have seen this with my patients," he said, explaining that a typical script in Australia is usually between a three and four month supply.
Alternatively, new research from scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggests giving women a year-long supply of the contraceptive pill could reduce unintended pregnancies.
The researchers analysed data from 24,309 women enrolled in the Veterans Affairs health system who were taking oral contraceptive pills.
They looked at the number of monthly unintended pregnancies among these women and found a 12 month script would have prevented an estimated 583 unintended pregnancies.
While the study isn't generalisable to women in Australia since it was conducted in the US and only with veterans, it does show the potential benefits of a 12 month script when compared to a three or four month one.
“A gap of seven days or more between [the contraceptive pill] refills could put women at high risks for pregnancies, and that’s not unique to women veterans,” Dr. Sonya Borrero, one of the authors of the study, told Insider.
Women of reproductive age are incredibly busy with jobs, child care, and parental care, so refills can fall to the bottom of their priority list.
So it might cause you to ask, why don't our doctors just give us a full 12 months of the contraceptive pill to begin with? Dr Harvey told 10 daily there are a number of reasons for this.
"They usually vary from doctor to doctor. However, the ability for a doctor to give a 12 month script is there," he said.
"Repeats can be added to the initial prescription meaning the patient does not need to return to the doctor for 12 months. But they must return to the pharmacist every three to four months to fill the repeats on the prescription."
Dr Harvey said when women are aware that they can request a yearly script for the pill, they are likely to ask for one and this is particularly true for younger women who may not have any other need to regularly see a GP more than once a year.
"The Australian government subsidises the contraceptive pill through the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and allows a maximum of 12 months prescription of the pill to be subsidised in one visit to the doctor," he added.
Dr Harvey said the oral contraceptive pill is still the preferred method of contraception, despite the growing popularity of period tracking apps.
"I have not seen an increase in women using period apps as a form of contraception, thankfully," he said. "The rhythm method has the lowest efficacy as a means of contraception."
Dr Harvey said doctors, including himself, would not recommend period apps as a form of contraception.
Featured image: Getty