Pill usage declining while coils and implants gain popularity

8th August 2018

By Imogen Robinson

The use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) almost doubled between 2007 and 2017, according to a BBC report.

The data, taken from the NHS in England, shows that 39% of people accessing contraception through NHS sexual health clinics chose a LARC (for example, the coil, or the implant), as opposed to 21% in 2007.

Meanwhile, use of the oral contraceptive pill has fallen in the last 10 years, and pill prescriptions through GPs have also fallen.

LARCs include the copper coil, or IUD, the Mirena coil, or other hormonal coil (IUS), the implant, and the injectable contraceptive.

The shift in usage suggest that women are becoming more aware of the different contraceptive options available to them, and that healthcare providers are perhaps pushing alternatives more, and educating visitors on their options.

The shift also comes at a time when concerns about mental health issues related to pill use have been at the forefront of the news.


Although it is almost failsafe if taken perfectly, it requires a good memory on the part of the user, and also a willingness to tolerate some unwelcome side effects in some.

Speaking to the BBC, Dr. Anatole Menon-Johansson of Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital said that more women are asking for longer-term and non-hormonal options.

He added: “The most effective form of marketing of contraception is peer to peer, by word of mouth.

“There’s a ‘cascade’ effect, where people hear about it from their friends who have had a good experience, then more people ask for it.”

According to the BBC, the NHS in England has made a concerted effort to increase awareness of LARCs and trained more staff to fit them.

The increased uptake in such forms of contraception suggests increasing frustration among pill-users.

While when it came out it revolutionised sexual freedom and reproductive choices for women, very few alternatives have appeared since, and for many the pill isn’t a great solution.

Although it is almost failsafe if taken perfectly, it requires a good memory on the part of the user, and also a willingness to tolerate some unwelcome side effects in some.

On top of that, it requires visits to the doctor for a new prescription when you run out, and not being able to get an appointment in times means women end up missing doses.

While it can get rid of acne, and reduce mood swings, it can also cause both in others, and some women even report weight gain, although science hasn’t confirmed the link.

In a recent survey conducted by The Femedic, the women interviewed also expressed some dissatisfaction with the pill.

Interestingly, it transpired that women found they needed considerable experimentation to find a pill that worked for them.


Many women still remain dissatisfied about the services they are receiving, with almost half (45%) voicing concerns that there is not enough information available about the contraceptive options that are out there.

One in ten of the 1,009 respondents admitted trying five or more than five different contraceptive pills in their reproductive lifetime so far, and 70% had tried at least two different pills.

Given the dissatisfaction the survey found among women about their contraceptive options, it is encouraging to see that more and more women are opting for LARCs and that more doctors are being taught how to fit them.

Nonetheless, The Femedic survey also showed that many women still remain dissatisfied about the services they are receiving, with almost half (45%) voicing concerns that there is not enough information available about the contraceptive options that are out there.

For this reason it is imperative that cuts to funding don’t continue: 600 people a week were reported to have been turned away from oversubscribed sexual health clinics in one London NHS Trust.

The more options available for women, and the more both the public and staff are educated about the options, means more women will be able to find one that works for them, as opposed to enduring years struggling with a form of contraception that is causing them unwelcome side effects.

TwitterFacebook

Imogen Robinson

Deputy Editor, The Femedic

Imogen joined The Femedic after working as a news reporter. Becoming frustrated with the neverending clickbait, she jumped at the chance to work for a site whose ethos revolves around honesty and empathy. From reading articles by doctors to researching her own, and discussing health with a huge variety of women, she is fascinated by just how little we are told about our own bodies and women-specific health issues, and is excited to be working on a site which will dispel myths and taboos, and hopefully help a lot of women.