Updated: Jan 22
These tips are guaranteed to save you time and make it easier for you to get a prescription of 'The Pill' and other hormonal contraceptives online.
Hormonal contraceptives include:
The combined contraceptive pill, also known as the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) which contains both oestrogen and progesterone.
The contraceptive vaginal ring and contraceptive patch which also contain both oestrogen and progesterone.
The Progesterone only Pill (POP) which contains progesterone only.
This article mainly focuses on and refers to the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill, also called, but the principles also apply to the contraceptive vaginal ring, the contraceptive patch and the Progesterone only pill. 'The pill' encompasses any oral contraceptive method so it includes the COCP and the POP.
Links to contraceptive guides, which discuss these various types of contraceptive methods and all methods of contraception can be found at the bottom of the page.
REMEMBER: These types of birth control do not protect against sexually transmitted disease (STI). Ensure you be safe by wearing a condom and having regular STI checks.
STI checks online will be discussed in the next article.
The information in this blog will be relevant to you if:
You are already taking oral contraceptives or the contraceptive patch/vaginal ring regularly i.e. you are getting a refill or repeat prescription of the contraceptive you are taking every day.
You are not having side effects or symptoms from your current contraceptive method. If you are having side effects, you should discuss them with a doctor.
You require emergency contraception; discussed at the end of the article.
The information mostly applies in the UK but most of the information should be useful for our international readers as well.
The three steps
There are three main steps you can take to make the process of getting the pill prescription easier.
1. Take action at least 3-4 weeks before you need your next supply.
2. Take your blood pressure and weight.
3. Request your contraception via an online service or App.
You should see or speak to the Doctor, Practice Nurse or family planning specialist if:
you are having symptoms or side effects that you’d like to discuss
you would like to discuss other types of birth control e.g. long acting reversible contraceptive methods, natural contraceptive methods or actually want to change your method of contraception
You are unsure of or want to discuss whether you need emergency contraception or what type of emergency contraception to take.
So, grab a cuppa, let’s get started….. and do let us know how you get on.
Either ping us an email , comment or DM on our Facebook or Instagram feed.
1.Take action to get the pill prescription at least 3 to 4 weeks before you need your next supply
Hopefully you are already doing this at least most of the time :-)
Ensure you take action to replenish your supply of the pill well before you need it and at the latest once you start the last strip of pills. You just don’t want to miss taking your tablet because you don’t have any more left.
Having said that, during my GP shifts in the out-of-hours service, I've spoken to patients who have forgotten or intended to re-order, became distracted and forgot; these things happen from time to time.
If you are in the UK, and you need to get an emergency supply of your regular contraceptive pill, you should be able to visit your regular pharmacy to get a short term supply. Alternatively you can call NHS 111 who, depending on the time of day, can put you through to the extended hours GP service or GP out of hours service. The doctor will issue an e-prescription which will be sent to your nearest pharmacy. They may issue between 1-3 strips so only enough for 1-3 months supply.
2. Take your blood pressure and weight
This is one of the most important requirements for getting the pill online.
If you have been taking the pill for more than 3 months, you should check your blood pressure and weight at least once a year.
You can enter your weight and height into a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to calculate your BMI.
The BMI is a simple way that clinicians can assess your weight as a proportion to your height to give a standard comparative measure.
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health (FSRH) recommends that Blood Pressure and BMI are measured at least once a year for those taking the COCP, vaginal ring and patch (i.e. all combined hormonal methods).
The FSRH also recommend that, every year, clinicians check that it is safe for you to take the combined pill, that it’s being taking properly and that you are happy to continue using the method.
Out of all of the above, they emphasise that the most important set of information required is your blood pressure and BMI. So at the very least, every year, your doctor will need your blood pressure and BMI.
However, self-checking your blood pressure and weight more frequently than once a year can be helpful.
This is because:
your weight can creep up slowly whilst taking hormone pills
your blood pressure may increase, particularly if you are on COCP
if your weight or blood pressure are too high it will not be safe to take the combined pill. This depends on a number of factors including what your blood pressure and weight are, any other medication you are taking and the type of pill you are taking. Your doctor will be able to advise you.
If your blood pressure or weight is increasing, you can inform the practice nurse or doctor so they can take a record and if appropriate review your contraceptive method or provide you with advice.
Performing regular exercise e.g. walking and eating a healthy nutritious diet with the right portion sized intake, may help minimise weight gain and will contribute towards having a healthy body and mind.
So how do you check your blood pressure, weight and height?
1. The cheapest way is to go to a pharmacy, your doctors’ clinic, a gym, health centre or shop near you that offers these services. In many GP surgeries in the UK you can usually check your blood pressure, height and weight in the reception or a dedicated area without having to see or speak to anyone.
2. If you already know your height, you can buy a blood pressure machine and set of bathroom scales to keep at home. You can therefore check your blood pressure and weight by yourself when it’s convenient for you. This is the ultimate way to make life easier but is not mandatory.
The cost of a set of scales (starting from around £10) and blood pressure machine (starting from around £20) can be worthwhile as they last for years and can be used by you and any other members of your family.
I will talk about the benefits of buying a blood pressure monitor and bathroom scales for your home in another article. In the meantime, this information from the British Heart Foundation should be useful.
If you buy a blood pressure monitor, make sure that it comes with the right cuff size. The cuff is the part that you wrap around your arm and that inflates and squeezes your arm when the machine is taking your blood pressure reading.
If you or your partner have large arms, you will need to have a larger cuff which you usually have to buy separately as they don’t usually come with the blood pressure monitor.
Most GP services I have worked in use Omron blood pressure monitors which require two separate cuffs (a standard and large size). This is Omron’s cheapest, most basic model which is good and serves its purpose. The large cuff, which needs to be bought separately, can be found here. Omron's blood pressure monitors include a 3 year warranty which covers service and they recommend servicing the machine every two years. There is a fee for service after 3 years from day of purchase.
This is a list of blood pressure monitors approved by the British and Irish Hypertension Society.
If you don't have bathroom scales you can buy this basic set of bathroom scales.
Many bathroom scales available on the market today offer additional features (these are not relevant to this particular article but will be covered in a future article).
3. Request the pill prescription online
In the UK, you can obtain free contraception online from your registered GP by repeat prescription
from SH24 (some regions in the UK may not be funded to receive this service)
When you request your pill refill online you will need to enter your personal details and complete an online questionnaire which will ask about the type of contraceptive pill you are taking, whether you have any missed pill day, whether you are experiencing any worrying symptoms or side effects, whether you are taking any other medication, details of any allergies AND your blood pressure, weight and height.
If you track your menstrual cycle you will already be noting any symptoms you experience e.g. bloating, acne, migraines, breast tenderness etc. If you haven't done so already read my previous article on tracking your menstrual cycle.
To receive your prescription from your GP. You can register with an app and have your repeat prescription issued this way. Read my article on getting your repeat NHS prescription online or by app.
If your GP has the right information and is satisfied that it is safe for you to continue with your contraceptive method, you can usually obtain a prescription for up to one year supply of your contraceptive pill.
The request will be rejected if you have not had a pill review in the last year. The best way to avoid this being rejected is
1. To complete the contraception questionnaire on your GP Practice website (if applicable)
2. To complete the questionnaire* by Your Trusted Squad and email** it to your practice (you can also send in the post or hand it to them in person if you prefer).
Make sure you include your blood pressure, weight and height.
When you complete the questionnaire, please ensure you read the relevant guide (see links at the bottom of the page) for the type of contraceptive (COCP/POP/vaginal ring/patch) you are taking. This is so that you know how to take the contraceptive, what to do if you miss a dose, if you have diarrhoea or vomiting and when to use condoms or take extra precautions.
3. To book an appointment to visit or speak to the Practice nurse to have a review (read my tips on having a video call with your healthcare professional)
*The questionnaire will be available to our subscribers for free. Subscribe if you want to receive the questionnaire.
**If you want to send your questionnaire securely by email, you can use the secure features provided by your email provider or save your document in a secure end-to-end encrypted cloud platform e.g. Sync and send the document directly from there. I have used Sync numerous times to send information to my doctor.
Do I need to pay for 'the pill' ?
In the UK, NHS prescriptions for contraceptives are free.
The emergency contraceptive pill
If you require emergency contraception, you can obtain the emergency contraceptive pill online.
However, the emergency contraceptive pill, depending on the circumstances, is not always the right option for emergency contraception and using the copper IUD may be more suitable.
It may not be appropriate if you have already taken it during your current cycle, if you are not within the recommended number of days after having unprotected sex (usually 5 days) or other reasons.
Therefore, you will need to have an assessment; either questionnaire, by video, phone or in person to ensure the right method is used to give the best chance of preventing an unwanted pregnancy.
SH24 offer free emergency contraceptive pill online.
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Other Information Resources
SH24: General Contraceptive Guide- All methods of contraception and medical suitability