The Pill Predicament: The Importance of Correct Contraception Choices

In the ever-evolving world of relationships and intimacy, one thing remains constant: the importance of making the right choices for you when it comes to contraception. In the United Kingdom, the options for contraception are diverse, allowing individuals to take control of their sexual and reproductive health. However, the impact of these choices on our lives can be substantial, especially when our medications and methods don't quite hit the mark.

In our latest research, we delve into the conversations around contraception to shed light on the most commonly used methods, gauge satisfaction levels, and explore the ways in which these choices influence our daily lives and relationships. We're also taking a closer look at the 'male pill' and the varying opinions on its introduction and usage. Plus, we're exploring the ongoing debate about whose responsibility contraception should be in today's world.

So, what are the top choices for contraception in the UK? Which are working well, and which ones are causing us to reconsider our options? What impact do our chosen methods have on our physical and emotional well-being? And just who should bear the responsibility for contraception?

Please note: At Superdrug Online Doctor we understand that gender is unique to every individual. Please note that for the purposes of this study when referring to male and female we are talking about the sex that was assigned at birth.

We spoke to 2,000 females and found that the most used contraceptive method is the pill (20%), with 13% opting for the combined pill (containing both estrogen and progesterone) and 7% opting for the progestogen-only pill. This is followed by condoms (18%), the contraceptive implant, inserted into your upper arm (4%), the IUD, inserted into your uterus (4%), and the contraceptive injection (3%). While some of those surveyed also use fertility apps to track their cycles (3%), others use natural family planning (4%), and 53% said they don’t currently use any birth control methods at all.

Are Brits happy on contraception?

How satisfied is the UK with their contraceptive?

But how do the UK feel about their contraception choices? It’s not just about protecting the physical aspects of our health; the choices we make can have a significant impact on our emotional well-being too. It's intriguing to note that 29% of those surveyed are not happy with their current contraceptive choices, sparking questions about what's driving this dissatisfaction.

Interestingly, the younger generation seems to feel the least positive when it comes to their contraception options. Two in five (39%) individuals aged 18-24 expressed their unhappiness with their current choices, while a third (32%) of those aged 25-34 stated the same. That’s compared to those 35 and older, who have less dissatisfaction, with a massive 76% of those aged 45-54 stating they were either “very” or “somewhat” happy with their choices.

Inadequate information about contraception options and their potential varying side effects could play a pivotal role in these choices going awry. Coupled with a lack of proper education and advice, it's no wonder that some are left with lingering regrets, and the 29% who regret their choices may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Superdrug Online Doctor expert, Dr. Babak Ashrafi, advised the best way to go about choosing the right birth control for you:

“From the pill to the patch, there is a wide range of contraception types available in the UK, so the first step in selecting the right birth control is understanding all your options. Speak to a healthcare provider to discuss your health history and help guide your decision along with your lifestyle and habits. Be open to adjustments and trying out different types of contraception if needed; it can take some time to figure out which contraception works best for you.”

Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development

The everyday impact of incompatible contraception

A notable 22% of those surveyed find themselves wrestling with mood changes as a result of their contraception, and 13% mention the adverse impact it has had on their mental health. More than 1 in 10 expressed concerns about body image and energy levels, suggesting that the ripple effects of contraception choices can reach far into our personal lives, and the impact extends to the intimate aspects of life as well.

Love lives take a hit for 9%, skin health becomes a concern for 10%, and relationships feel the strain for 6% of those surveyed. Remarkably, even careers aren't immune, with 3% of individuals stating that contraception has negatively affected their professional lives, which moves up to 10% for those in London.

Dr Babak explains..

“Like with all things health-related, there is no one size fits all, and women can experience both an increase and a decrease in libido when they begin to take hormonal contraception. When taking hormonal contraception, people may experience a decrease in testosterone and, with this, a decrease in sex drive. However, some women have reported increased sexual desire due to less stress around getting pregnant, reduced vaginal irritation, and PMS.”

Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Development
Who is responsible for contraception?

The responsibility of contraception

In addition to these personal impacts, the responsibility of contraception adds another layer of complexity. It's not just an individual concern; it's a shared responsibility that often involves both partners. Our findings reveal the dynamics at play in modern relationships, with 33% of females seeing it primarily as their responsibility, compared to 26% of males who take responsibility themselves.

However, 54% of females and 56% of males believe contraception should be a shared, equal responsibility. This is particularly interesting, as we also asked individuals about the possibility of a ‘male pill' and how likely females were to trust their partner to take it every day, as well as how confident males were that they could trust themselves…

The 'male' pill: How confident are the UK?

While the idea of a male contraceptive pill has long been discussed, confidence issues seem to loom large. Only 5% of females would feel assured that their partner would take the contraceptive pill, while a staggering 63% express a lack of confidence overall in males to handle this responsibility on a daily basis.

Curiously, males also encounter this lack of confidence in themselves, as just 12% think they could trust themselves “a lot” while 32% acknowledge they couldn’t trust themselves with the responsibility.

These confidence issues reveal the need for open and honest discussions around responsibilities, expectations, and trust in relationships when it comes to contraception. To welcome a future where the ‘male pill’ becomes a viable contraception option, addressing and overcoming these trust concerns will be a critical step forward.

Can men be trusted to take a contraceptive pill

In summary

The study shows a snapshot of the diverse experiences and emotions surrounding contraception and underlines the importance of doing research and speaking to medical professionals to discuss your health history and be guided to the best choices for you. As we navigate this landscape, it's crucial to be aware of the impact our choices can have on our physical and emotional well-being, communicate openly with partners, and stay informed about emerging contraceptive options.

The development of a ‘male contraceptive pill’ is on the horizon, but as we’ve seen, trust issues will need to be addressed. With further research and dialogue, we can work towards a future where contraception is not only effective but also enhances the overall well-being and happiness of individuals and couples alike.

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