How has the Pope influenced the pill?

Nottinghamshire pharmacists have backed new guidelines that state women can take the pill every day of the month, despite the “Pope rule” that insists on a seven-day break.

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) have set national standards for contraceptives and have suggested that women do not need to take the suggested seven-day break from the combined contraceptive pill.

These guidelines have revealed that there are no health benefits to taking a seven-day break.

The ‘father of the pill’, Carl Djerassi, proposed that the seven-day break was invented to gain the approval of Pope Paul VI in the 1950s.

There was hope that the Vatican would approve this method of contraception, as the break and withdrawal bleed mimicked that of a woman’s natural cycle. However, the Catholic church disallowed its use and Nottingham’s Catholic community still backs that ban.

Father Andrew Cole, Nottingham Cathedral

Reverend Andrew Cole speaks about the Catholic view of the contraceptive pill

Nonetheless, for the past 60 years, women have been advised by medical professionals to follow this “Pope rule” routine and undertake a seven-day break.

A visual demonstration of how the contraceptive pill system works 

The new guidelines are only just making waves throughout the medical world, with the NHS website still stating women must “avoid taking more than two packs without a break”.

“If women were advised to bleed unnecessarily, what else hasn’t been looked at properly?”
Vicky Spratt, Journalist and campaigner

Lots of Nottinghamshire medical professionals are working hard to offer up-to-date advice on the changes to standards, like pharmacist Harvinder Singh.

Harvinder Singh talking about the contraceptive pill 

What does all of this mean for those that currently take the contraceptive pill?

  • You can safely take the pill everyday, without a seven-day break
  • Taking the pill every day increases the effectiveness of your contraception
  • If you still want a period, medical professionals suggest taking a four-day break instead
  • Your GP can now prescribe you a year’s supply of the pill instead of only three months
  • Taking the pill back-to-back without a break can actually lower your risk of ovarian cancer
  • If you suffer with cramps, acne, headaches or PMS, taking the pill every day will help

Journalist Vicky Spratt is the face behind the Mad About The Pill campaign, and said that this is “yet another example of all that we aren’t told about women’s health”.

“If women were advised to take a seven-day break and bleed unnecessarily, reducing the effectiveness of their pill, for over 60 years because of one man then what else hasn’t been looked at properly?”

Many people in Nottingham have seen the change in guidelines as a positive movement that could help reduce period poverty within the city. On January 26 café Homemade held The Free Period Collection event.

We are here at Homemade collecting donations. Come along and try some of their wonderful food whilst you’re here ☕️ 🧁 🍰 #thefreeperiod #endperiodpoverty

Posted by The Free Period Nottingham on Saturday, January 26, 2019

Nottingham locals came together to donate sanitary products in a bid to help those in the city who struggle to afford essential items. The event came after a survey from Plan International UK revealed that one in 10 teenage girls have to improvise sanitary products.