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The Pill

You don't have to take a 7 day break on the contraceptive pill to appease the Pope anymore

Research shows the break provides no health benefit.

NEW GUIDANCE RELEASED this week suggests that it’s totally fine to take the contraceptive pill every day as the break provides no health benefit.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare’s (FSRH) new guidelines highlight that there is “no health benefit from the seven-day hormone-free interval” on combined hormonal contraception and women can safely take fewer (or no) hormone-free intervals to avoid monthly bleeds, cramps and other symptoms. Woohoo!

(It’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of getting pregnant – your chances are still the same. If used correctly, the combined hormonal contraception (CHC) is more than 99% effective. Roughly 9% of users become pregnant in the first year of use.)

The evidence-based guidelines also suggest that if a hormone-free interval is taken, shortening it to four days could potentially reduce the risk of pregnancy if pills, patches or rings are missed.

One of the researchers suggested yesterday that the seven-day break had been introduced by a Catholic inventor of the pill in the 1960s. John Rock, a Catholic gynaecologist, had hoped that it would persuade the Pope and the Catholic Church to approve its use by imitating the natural menstrual cycle.

Why was it brought in in the first place, then, if it’s of no health benefit to us all gals?

Well, according to an interview with Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health at University College London John Guillebaud, he reckons that’s down to gynecologist John Rock. 

“[The gynaecologist] John Rock devised [the break] because he hoped that the Pope would accept the pill and make it acceptable for Catholics to use,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

How could it be that for 60 years, we have been taking the pill in a sub-optimal way because of this desire to please the Pope?”

Dr. Rock was the first scientist to fertilise a human egg in a test tube and was a monumental force in the development of the revolutionary contraceptive pill. A devout Roman Catholic who attended mass every morning, he previously urged leaders of the Catholic church and then Pope John XXIII to accept the pill, insisting the drug was safe to use. 

What should I do now so?

You do you, boo. If you want to keep taking your breaks, keep doing so. The guidelines provided by the FSRH are not statutory, so depending on who your doctor is, the break may continue to be recommended.

However, if you’re the kind of person who would rather go straight through, you’re fine to do so.

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