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On why you should give me the pill

When I was 14 I tried to go on the pill. I wanted it not because I was having sex, but because I was going on an activity holiday and had heard it could stop your periods. The doctor man didn’t cough up: fair enough. That beautiful green prescription slip failed to materialise.

But now? Now, thank you very much society, I am a goddamn grown-up. I have a mortgage and a job and a fucking chequebook and a special key with which I bleed the radiators. I do all the things that grown-ups do.

So why, given that society accepts I can make such adult decisions as ‘whether I fill out a self-assessment tax form’, do I have to go through what seems like a completely unnecessary rigmarole just in order to get the contraceptive pill?

How to get the contraceptive pill

I’ve been on the same pill for 10 years, more or less. The same one. I know what it does, and what side effects it may or may not have.

But in order to get it I have to perform an inexplicable dance to demonstrate that I am qualified to take it. I have to take time off work, go to the doctors, pretend I’m willing to give up smoking, let them weigh and measure me, have a brief but unnecessarily intrusive chat about my sex life, and then if I’m lucky they hand over a six-month prescription.

If I’m unlucky I get three months, because they don’t like to give out too many. The reason for this is apparently ‘medicine wastage’ – i.e. people getting pills then either selling them on or flushing them down the bog.

But these are contraceptive pills – they’re not valuable like morphine or amphetamine. As far as I know, most women don’t just sell them on for profit – we use them to prevent ourselves from getting unwantedly pregnant.

But, you know, I’m willing to accept that perhaps this is reason enough to give them out in smaller doses.  It’s the need to discuss them with an actual doctor that most makes my blood boil. I have nothing against doctors, but I have a huge bee in my bonnet about visiting the doctor because I have a job. To get an appointment with my doctor I have to take time off work to go and see her. Or, at a pinch, the nurse.

To be honest, that don’t give a flying fuck who prescribes me this shit, as long as someone is there to witness the fact that I turned up. That’s all they seem to care about: that I’m there. They don’t care that I lie about giving up smoking. They don’t care that I’m overweight. They don’t care that I’ve been taking it for more than 10 years: they just care that I’m there.

And that, ladies and gentlemen-who-can’t-jizz-in-me-in-case-I-get-pregnant, is the point.

Other places to get the contraceptive pill

I went to Brook recently. The internet told me that if I went to see them they’d hook me up, without an appointment. And they would – they’d love to. They could think of nothing more that they’d like to do than fulfill my contraceptive needs. But sadly I’m 27, so no can do. 27 year olds don’t need easy access to contraceptives like under-25s do, so I’m outside of their cutoff zone.

The man in Brook was sympathetic, and gave me this advice:

“Try a family planning clinic, they’re not institutionally ageist like we are.”

So I tried a family planning clinic. Except the one near my work was bastard closed for the whole of the next day and has working hours that would suit only an unemployed insomniac, I have not yet been able to visit them.

The ranty bit

Is it any fucking wonder we have massive sexual issues in the UK? Is it any wonder young girls get pregnant? The only thing that surprises me is that women aren’t screaming any louder about the malignant idiocy of this system.

Men: I ask you honestly and truly – would you put up with this? If the roles were reversed, and you had to take pills, would you put up with a situation where you had to go through this miserable rigmarole in order to fuck your lady without the use of a condom? I doubt it.

If the male pill were readily available you’d be able not just to buy it in supermarkets but to pick it up at a corner shop on the way to a fucking date. So far the only real contraceptive available to men is the condom – and you can buy that shit fucking everywhere.

I’m not saying this out of spite – if you guys had a pill I’d happily sign an e-petition to make it easy for you to access. You bloody well should be able to wander into a shop and say “Hey, shop assistant, I am a grown adult and am able to make my own contraceptive choices. Please can you sell me a pill that prevents my ladyfriend from getting up the duff?”

You should be able to do that. It should be your right, in a society that both madly loves sex and is also able to control your likelihood of procreating. You should be able to do that. And so should I.

Microgynon 30 – six month’s worth, please. And you can skip the moralising and the misery and the time off work and the queuing at the doctor’s surgery. I have to work, and I have to fuck, and you’re making these things unnecessarily incompatible.


  • bambiinboxes says:

    Get a coil fitted – years of baby protection, no side effects & practically no periods.

  • I know that this misses the point of the post, but some pharmacists will provide you with a weighing, lecture and pill, with slightly better opening hours.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous. I’ve stood tearfully in surgeries, being told that I don’t have the relevant piece of paper to register today, but when I do they’ll kindly allow me to wait a week for them to process my application before I may call for an appointment for some distant date. I’ve managed so far to not scream, “I had sex last night, what the fuck do you expect me to do?!” at any obstructive receptionists.

    • girlonthenet says:

      Yep – this and all. Registering, filling out forms, etc for an appointment that (and fair enough) isn’t necessarily an emergency causes more tedium and delay.

      I didn’t realise you could get it from pharmacists – will give it a bash. See, *that* sounds a hell of a lot more convenient – pharmacists are open later than 5pm, which means that people who have jobs can go there without needing time off.

      While I’m here, a couple of people on Twitter have pulled me up on the fact that the checks are necessary, so thought I’d add detail here. I get that, I do. It’s important that you know the risks, and that your doctor can monitor your risks. But every three months? Really? And every three months you need to have the same lectures and the same discussions about something you’ve been taking for most of your adult life? I don’t buy it.

      I also wouldn’t mind as much if they acted on the risks. If they said “OK, look, we’re not actually going to prescribe you this because you’re overweight/at risk etc” then fair enough. But they don’t. They give it to you anyway. And so what was the point of taking time out to visit the doctor about it in the first place, other than to prove you’re a good girl who turns up to appointments?

      • AnotherGirl says:

        Pharmacists can give you the morning after pill as a one off, but not the contraceptive pill for three months.

        Three monthly check ups is excessive. A quick annual review is all you should really need, to check blood pressure and if it’s still the best option for you and not something like the implant, coil etc.

        • @AnotherGirl, I hate to be difficult, but some pharmacists *will* give you 3 months of Microgynon 30. I know because they’ve given it to me, along with comments about my weight. Not every pharmacist does, but some do, and I wish I’d known that during some previous panics.

          While the hoop-jumping is infuriating, it’s worth noting that it’s a general problem in the NHS that medical requirements seem to be divorced from real life, rather than a contraception-specific problem. A couple of months ago I told a doctor I was in a strange town by myself, he diagnosed a broken collar bone and concussion, and sent me back to my hotel room with a leaflet telling me someone should check on me hourly throughout the night. He checked the leaflet-giving-box, presumably, for what it was worth. It’s particularly frustrating dealing with this sort of logic to get contraception, but I’m not convinced that it’s about gender so much as the idiosyncracies of the NHS.

    • Jamie Potter says:

      I also wonder if people with poor literacy skills are excluded from the pill? Is there any/much support to go through the whole process? (I’m a bloke, have zero experience!).

  • lena says:

    have you considered the mirena IUD? vastly superior to all other forms of contraception, and you’re sorted for 5 years.

  • girlonthenet says:

    @lena and @bambiinboxes – I’ve considered a few other more long-term solutions, but am utterly terrified about what change in hormones will do to me. I had to swap my pill out for a short time a while ago when I was taking other medication, and it sent me pretty crazy – I got really hormonal, upset, and effectively started acting like a different person. I worry that changing that balance too much will … well… stop me from being me. Perhaps I’m just being childish or overly concerned.

  • Hello,

    You’re obviously feeling frustrated! I’m not sure where you live but it is almost certain that there are other places apart from Brook that you could receive contraceptive advice. For example if you were in Bristol you could go to any of these sexual health clinics and they are open to 7pm so hopefully you wouldn’t have to take off work.

    Next, it is usually only the first prescription which is for 3 months. This is because quite a few people do change their pill because it doesn’t suit them. That might be because they develop side effects, like headaches or an increase in blood pressure. So if a full 6 months was prescribed there would be quite a lot of waste. This isn’t so much about cost- the pill is pretty cheap- it just makes good sense not to waste medicines.
    But after it is usual to only be reviewed every 6 months or once a year.
    The reason you can’t just but the pill over the counter is that there are risks and benefits. You can find out a lot of useful information here, if you are interested.
    The risks are pretty low but there are some important ones which mean that you should speak to someone who can give advice before starting the pill.
    I wasn’t aware until today, but there are some pilot schemes where pharmacists can provide the pill without a prescription.
    But they would still need to make the same assessment as a doctor or nurse would for this to be safe.

    I hope this is helpful to you.

  • RolandDT says:

    I had to go through something similar for ED, which is embarrassing enough to begin with.

    The process involved peeing in a cup, fill out these forms, extensive questioning, fill out more forms, more questions, and done. No wait, pee some more because apparently our technicians need more. Maybe they mistook the first batch for apple juice. Wait a few days, get the prescription, find out no insurance covers for broken dick and hope I have enough money so I can fuck my wife.

    Why does the medical world have to make sex so complicated?

  • Caramella says:

    Late to the party, but that sounds like a right pain in the arse! In Australia the method seems to be: Doctor’s appointment – blood pressure, weight, smoking. If it’s the first time youve taken that particular Pill, they’ll give you a script for 3 months. If it’s something you’ve been taking previously with no issues, the script will be for 12 months. That worked fine for me, because I knew that every other time I needed it renewed, I was due for a Pap smear too.

  • CuriousAngel01 says:

    I have to, the hypocrisy here kinda pissed me off…..I should I’m a A2 biology student, and I’ve spoke to a lot of doctors and read lots of articles…I don’t profess to be an expect but I can say this….WWWTTTFFF!!!! Lol Doctors have been giving out rediculously excessive amounts of antibiotics for years, which is why we’re in a crisis of some diseases becoming resistant and possibly, in the future, posing a major threat to human health….and yet hardly anything is done about it and they worry about giving out too many contraceptives…..which by the way prevent teenage pregnancy, stop period cramps most of the time, stop all the mental issues and lack of education and no jobs that goes along with teenage pregnancy and generally make our lives a hell of a lot easier…’s so counterintuitive and stupid, I’m finding myself shaking my head and wondering how long the ‘things I’d like to change in the world’ list can possibly be…

  • CuriousAngel01 says:

    Grammar issues up there not helping my case any….lol :P sorry Hun :P

  • Phillip says:

    I live in the US and have been to way to many Doctors (capitalized just like God). Doctors are control freaks. As far as I know there is no way around this except to get real lucky and get the rare Doctor who is more of a human. Pharmacists are control freaks too. You may have the luck to find a financially stressed Pharmacist and essentially step outside the rules or the law. I would be very happy to find out this is not true, but I have had serious problems for a long time and most Doctors don’t really seem to care.


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