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LIFESTYLES

What every woman should know about the pill

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Oral contraceptives, commonly known as ‘the Pill’, are among the medicines women use most frequently. Although most well known as a convenient form of birth control, this type of medication is also often prescribed to help women with a variety of other health issues. A General Practitioner and pharmacist share their perspectives on what every woman should know.

“The Pill is not only for birth control. It can also be used for prevention or treatment of acne, reducing menstrual pain and symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, as well as regulating a woman’s menstrual periods,” says pharmacist Prudence Masemola of Medipost Pharmacy, South Africa’s largest national courier pharmacy.

“Oral contraceptives are prescribed to help control physiological hormonal mechanisms in the body, which is why the Pill can be effective for menstrual cycle control, severe painful or heavy periods known as dysmenorrhoea, polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis. It is important to note that these conditions must be managed by a medical practitioner,” says Dr Sharmistha Heeralal, a consultant on the Contro partner doctor network.

Medipost Pharmacy dispenses and delivers medication nationwide across South Africa, including medicines prescribed by Contro’s team of partner doctors.

Masemola adds that most oral contraceptive pills are packaged with a daily calendar to help women keep track of their medication in relation to their monthly cycle. This includes placebo pills, often in a different colour, for a few consecutive days each month to allow the body to release menstrual flow.

“For special occasions, such as a holiday or sports event, women can safely skip their period by not taking the placebo pills and continuing with the active pills instead. Although this should not be done too regularly, it is a very convenient option for those times when you have activities planned that would otherwise be hampered by menstruation,” she says.

Many options for family planning

When it comes to birth control, there are many options available to couples other than oral contraceptives. “Condoms offer the additional benefit of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Abstaining from sex is the only fully reliable option for preventing pregnancy and transmission of STIs, including HIV,” Masemola says.

“Injectable contraceptives, which are administered at two- or three-monthly intervals depending on which type is prescribed, only contain progesterone alternatives. This is in contrast to the contraceptive pill, which involves both oestrogen and progesterone hormones, and prevents pregnancy more effectively because it includes an additional barrier to falling pregnant,” adds Dr Heeralal.

For longer-term birth control, women can also consider having an intra-uterine device (IUD) fitted, which remains in the uterus, or an implant device, which is inserted into the upper arm and releases small amounts of progesterone to prevent pregnancy. Both of these options can provide up to five years of protection.

“Once the individual feels their family is complete, the couple could consider more permanent surgical options. For women, a procedure called tubal ligation seals the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. A less invasive procedure available to men, known as a vasectomy, prevents the release of sperm to avoid unwanted pregnancy,” Dr Heeralal notes.  

Possible side-effects and warnings

“As with any medication, everyone’s experience differs and there are possible side-effects although many will not feel any symptoms at all. The most commonly experienced are nausea, some gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, weight gain, inter-cyclical spotting or ‘breakthrough bleeding’, pre-menstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness, and missed menstrual periods. Most side effects pass after the first two weeks, however if symptoms persist, the woman should contact her prescribing doctor,” the GP says.

“Any woman who is considering oral contraceptives should also be aware that there is a very small risk of serious side effects relating to conditions caused by blood clots, known as thromboembolic diseases, including potentially increased risk of stroke. Medicine package leaflets contain details of potential risks,” Masemola says.

Pregnancy must be ruled out before a woman starts taking the pill. Women who have a history of thromboembolic disorders, such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolisms, undiagnosed abnormal genital bleeding, or suffer frequent headaches should make sure their treating doctor is aware of these factors, as this could mean the pill is not the right choice for them. The same applies to women with known or suspected breast or ovarian cancer and oestrogen-related disorders, or a family history of these conditions.

Prescription and compliance

Oral contraceptives are classified as schedule three medicines in South Africa, which means that they are only available with a doctor’s prescription. “It must be noted that compliance is a key factor to this method of contraception being effective. The pill needs to be taken every day, around the same time in order for it to be optimally effective,” Dr Heeralal says.

Contro network doctors can prescribe sexual health medication, including the contraceptive pill, patch and vaginal ring, online via virtual consultations. Opting to have your medicines, such as oral contraceptives, delivered by Medipost Pharmacy means there is no need to visit a pharmacy and wait in queues.

As part of the Contro service, scripts are automatically renewed without the need to consult a doctor in person each time. The partnership with Medipost Pharmacy ensures continuous and hassle-free reliable delivery of your medicines each month at no additional cost, so it is easy to adhere to treatment. As always, patient privacy is paramount so there is no indication on the outer packaging of what the medicine parcels contain, and confidentiality is guaranteed.

“Remember that once you decide to stop taking oral contraceptives, it can sometimes take a few months for your monthly cycle to return to normal and allowing for conception to take place. If pregnancy is not desired, alternative contraceptive methods should be started when you stop taking the pill,” Masemola concludes.

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LIFESTYLES

Why people cheat in September

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The month of September has a lot of sentiments to it.

From being declared the beginning of spring to the beginning of a new year – September is often deemed a month of new beginnings.

While many things begin to blossom this month, another trend also sadly follows suit.

According to recent trends, a lot of people seem to cheat in their relationships during September.

According to metro.co.uk, a lot of couples experience partners who cheat on them during this month.

The publication reports a surge in cheating, according to dating site illicitencounters.com.

It reports that couples return from holiday, and want to start their post-pandemic life by straying from their partners.

Research shows that autumn abroad shows a spike in affairs every year due to post-holiday effects.

The website also claims that the record number of couples will return from a summer break looking for a new partner after becoming fed up with their other half.

The site further reveals that during September, when a lot of people return to their respective jobs, workplace affairs are also very common.

After a survey of 2 000 site members of illicitencounters.com was conducted, 78% said the return to the office and a move away from working from home would make it easier to have an affair.

A further 54% of couples have reassessed their relationships during the pandemic.

Furthermore, September, followed by January and February, are the top months when people sign up on the website.

The survey further revealed that 34% of women and 32% of men felt less passion for their partners post the pandemic.

Sex and relationship expert Jessica Leoni agreed that September was a busy month for lovers.

“September is always the busiest month of the year for affairs, and that is why we call it Sex-tember,” said Jessica.

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LIFESTYLES

Must know changes in sex life after 30!

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Your sex experience is different when you are a teenager, in your 20s, 30s and it keeps changing as you grow older. From knowing what you want to reaching a climax, many things change.

If you are in your 30’s then here are some important things you need to know about those changes in your sex life.

  1. The desire may not be as strong

Once you are in your 30s, it is not necessary that you feel as strong a desire to do it as you did earlier. Some do feel that this is the best time for them but many do not. The urge starts depleting in some cases. The stress in life is generally the culprit which could be that of kids, family, work or even the want to look fit all the time.

2. Dryness

If you have been on a birth control pill, your urge to have sex may have lowered due to that as well. The pills prevent ovulation so that lowers testosterone. You feel dryer and it is not very comfortable due to that when you are at it. Which is why you must invest in good lubricants and speak to your gynae about your issue, she may have other suggestions.

3. Lower frequency

Of course if the desire is not so much anymore, your frequency of doing it also lowers. You need to quit pressurising yourself to achieve that certain number a week. This is not a movie but real life. So have this conversation with your partner about the same so that you both are on the same page.

4. Easier orgasm

Many women, with age, know what they want and what works for them in the end. The positions, the right places and thoughts. So this makes getting an orgasm easier. In the 20’s we are still figuring out our bodies, our likes and turn offs.

5. Experimental

In case you have not already, then you sooner will realise that you have started experimenting even more as you have become more comfortable with your body. The maturity that sets in with age most of the time brings us in peace with our looks, helps us figure out what we can do and not do and experiment accordingly. For some shyness goes away as we embrace ourselves for who we are and what our needs are.

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LIFESTYLES

Why women fall for bad boys

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They are dangerous, uncouth and we know they are trouble. Yet many women fall for the bad guys be it the villains in movies or in real life. Ever wondered why?

Here are a few answers we can think of which could be the key reason why!

  1. Masculinity

Many are attracted to men that ooze masculinity which could be a bit over exaggerated as well. If you notice, the villains in movies are well built, have a great baritone which makes us go weak in the knees. Their sense of style exudes the trait of being daring too. In real life we may not want them for long term or see a future with them but for dating, somehow we want to sweeped off our feet by them.

2. Free spirit

It is a social pressure especially in our country that the girl has to be ‘sundar susheel’ and be able to do house chores and what not – a debate for another time. We “should be” compliant and agreeable. In reality, we all love freedom to be ourselves and bad boys have that spirit in them because they do what they like and want. We too want it so we feel we can be the same with them too!

3. Forbidden fruit

How many times are we asked to stay away from a particular man or a boy and told he is forbidden? It is but human nature that we feel more attracted to do something and go for a person for whom the line has been drawn. They are different and it is those uncharted waters that attract us.

4. Protection

No we women do not need protection as such but many women tend to like it in the start of the relationship. Even if we know that the bubble will break later, the attention in the beginning is unbeatable. Many women feel cherished by such men.

5. Someone we can change

This hope that we can change him, be his therapist, is often met with a disastrous ending but some women tend to take up human projects. It makes us feel important to the other.

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