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New contraception service offers protection to women

A pharmacist looking at a box of tablets

Women can now ask for a supply of contraceptive pills from community pharmacies in Swansea Bay while they arrange a longer-term solution.

The new contraception service offers a three-month supply of the birth control pill, desogestrel, for free.

It means potential unwanted pregnancies can be prevented while women find a more permanent method of contraception.

This could include an implant, intrauterine device – known as a coil – or a continuation of the pill, among other options.

The service is available in all 92 community pharmacies across the Swansea Bay region.

It will run alongside the existing Emergency Hormonal Contraception Service, which offers an emergency contraceptive pill.

Sam Page, Head of Primary Care at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “This service helps to bridge the gap while a more long-term solution is secured.

“If a patient uses contraception for that initial three-month period, it’s more likely they will then move on to a more permanent method.

“Women are given a supply of desogestrel and advised that they will need to liaise with their GP practice by the end of the three months to arrange ongoing contraception. Support can also be accessed from sexual health clinics.

“If a patient asks their pharmacist to provide the Emergency Hormonal Contraception Service, they will be offered the bridging and quick-start Contraception Service at the same time.

“They would still receive the emergency contraceptive pill, but they will then be offered the three-month supply going forward.”

Women don’t have to wait to be offered the new service by their pharmacist – they can visit their local pharmacy and ask about it at any time.

The idea for the service followed a Public Health Wales review of sexual health services in Wales which determined that oral contraception should be available through community pharmacies.

“Community pharmacies are a good place to provide this service as they are accessible within local communities,” Sam added.

“Pharmacists have undergone additional training to be able to deliver the service.”

Women will need to have a private consultation with their pharmacist before they can be given desogestrel.

All community pharmacies throughout Swansea Bay have a private consultation room.

Sam said: “There will be inclusions and exclusions criteria for the service, which the pharmacist will go through during the consultation.

“They will also assess the patient’s body mass index and check their blood pressure. Pharmacists can also signpost patients to other sexual health services for sexual health screening, among other services.

“A summary of the consultation will then be sent to their GP practice to make sure their GP has an accurate record of the initial three-month supply of medication.

“The supply should be sufficient for a patient to then secure an ongoing supply once it has finished.

“We want people to know this service is available for them in the meantime while they identify that long-term solution.”

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