The Combined Pill: Shortening the Pill Free Interval
There is new scientific evidence for taking the Combined pill in a different way.
Traditionally, it has been advised that the combined pill is taken for 21 days, followed by a 7 day break.
The Pill free interval of 7 days has no important health advantages. The reason for the 7 day break is simply to allow women to feel reassured to see a period. The period on the pill is completely artificial and is completely unnecessary.
In the 7 days when you are not taking your pill, the ovary is not suppressed by the hormones in the pill, and can therefore begin to ‘wake up’ and start producing an egg. In some women, this egg may be released on the 6th or 7th day of the pill free interval. Such women are therefore at risk of falling pregnant, and even more at risk if they have forgotten to start their next packet at the right time, or stopped the previous packet too early.
There is now indisputable evidence that the 7 day gap is the primary explanation for the pill failures and unexpected pregnancies.
Apart from reducing the chances of getting pregnant, new regimes help in other ways. Women do not bleed at all, or bleed fewer times in the year. They are therefore, less likely to become anaemic, and more likely to see a bigger benefit on their other symptoms such as painful periods or endometriosis.
The use of the pill in this way is at the moment unlicensed. All this means is that the manufacturer does not say we can use it that way. But we already use many medicines in an unlicensed way, as long as expert medical opinion says that we can do so. In this case, the WHO and the UK Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare are encouraging us to use the pill with a shortened interval.