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RPS backs Nice call to educate patients about the coil

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has backed new guidance calling for healthcare professionals to alert women to the coil as an alternative to oral contraceptives.

In its latest quality standards guidance – aimed at all healthcare professionals delivering contraceptive advice – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) called for women using contraceptive services to be “given information about all methods, including long-acting reversible contraception”.

Women asking for emergency contraception should be told that “an intrauterine device (IUD or ‘coil’) is more effective than the pill”, Nice said as it published the guidance last week.

RPS spokesperson Neal Patel told C+D that, although some women “do not want” the coil, pharmacists are responsible for informing patients of all the options available to them.

“Many women will still visit their pharmacist for emergency contraception, as they have a regular method that’s failed for some reason and don’t want an IUD,” he said.

“The consultation is a great opportunity to explain the full range of contraceptive methods available so a woman feels fully informed about her choices,” Mr Patel added. 

Long-term advice

Contraceptive advice issued by healthcare professionals “needs to improve”, said Nice, which pointed to the 19% of pregnancies in Britain that are still unplanned.

Oral products are the most common form of emergency contraception, with sexual and reproductive health services issuing the pill in 95% of cases in 2014-15, it said.

For contraception generally, uptake of long-acting contraceptives has been increasing, and accounted for 37% all women making contact with sexual and reproductive health services in 2014-15, it added.

“The coil is the most effective form of emergency contraception and is effective for up to five days after unprotected sex or within five days of expected ovulation,” Nice added.

Dr Jan Wake, a GP and member of the guideline development group, said the coil has two advantages. “On top of being more effective, it can be retained and used as long-term contraception – some can even be left in place for 10 years.”

“However, timing is essential and women deciding on the coil should make contact with the clinic they have been advised to attend as soon as possible,” Dr Wake added. 

Practical approach: A patient can’t find the threads to her coil. What advice can you provide? Find out here

Do you talk to patients about the coil as contraceptive option?

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