The astonishing wonders of the female contraceptive pill Yasmin
15th November 2012
With so many versions of the contraceptive pill currently available, it may be a little confusing and even daunting for many women when trying to decide exactly which is the right choice for them. Many people may not be aware, but ‘The pill’ first came to prominence 56 years ago (1956) in Puerto Rico and in the present day there are approximately 3.5 million women in the UK alone who choose this as a contraception method. Contraceptive pills are chosen often in conjunction with the male still wearing a condom as normal in what could be regarded as a ‘belts and braces’ safety precaution. More and more women could turn to contraceptive pills for their incredibly high rate of pregnancy prevention. Another persuasive factor could also be the fact that only two months ago, the Implanon contraceptive implants hit headlines for all the wrong reasons when it was revealed that the small biodegradable rod had become lost within the body of hundreds of women after doctors are struggling to locate them, leaving the woman infertile. Long term patients with Medical Specialists Pharmacy may already be aware that we have provided oral contraceptive treatment for women for a number of years now, in the form of the wonder drug Dianette. For those unfamiliar with Dianette, it is a pill taken by women for everyday for 21 days of their menstrual cycle, followed by a 7 day break when no pills are taken at all (also known as ‘cyclic treatment’). During this break, women are still protected against unwanted pregnancies. In the 7 day rest period, hormone levels in the blood begin to decrease and women will experience a withdrawal bleed that is just like a normal period. Regardless of bleeding, the next pack of 21 tablets is begun after the week is up. However, there are now more options than ever for women in regards to contraception. One such option is another contraceptive pill, named ‘Yasmin’. Taken by thousands of women across the UK and even millions more worldwide, it has recently been introduced by Medical Specialists along with Marvelon and the Morning after pill, Levonelle 1500. A Yasmin tablet contains two active ingredients; ethinylestradiol and drospirenone. These are synthetic forms of the naturally occurring female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. The drospirenone within Yasmin works as a diuretic, meaning it helps to flush the body of excess fluid and reduce the symptoms of bloating which stem from this problem that arises when a woman is pre-menstrual. One tablet is taken every day for 21 days and you then have a seven day break from pill-taking, exactly the same as Dianette. In addition to battling the problems of water retention, Yasmin can also help to maintain or even lose weight and just like Dianette, has been shown to be incredibly effective at easing skin conditions such as acne. Don’t take our word for it though, this is what Dr Diana Mansour, head of fertility services for Newcastle Primary Care Trust, had to say about Yasmin: “It is not unusual for women to come back to us and say that Yasmin is the best contraceptive option they've had so far. Some of the other contraceptive pills they've been on have made them feel awful. Women have not only put on weight but have felt moody, too. If you ask women why they give up taking the pill, it is usually the side-effects, or perceived side-effects, and one of those is weight gain.” In fact, trials conducted in June 2000 pitted Yasmin against Microgynon 30; another main contraceptive pill used by women in the UK. Both contraceptives were found to improve acne symptoms. However, it was discovered that women taking Yasmin actually lost between 1lb 10oz and 3lb 10oz over the course of a year. In comparison, women taking Microgynon 30 managed to put on 1lb 8oz. One delighted user of Yasmin is 28-year-old Kathy Hart, a marketing director based in Kent. At aged 17, Kathy began to take the low dose contraceptive pill Mercilon. Initially happy, she began to gain weight with Mercilon. Kathy says: “But after ten years I started to gain weight and at that point the low dosage pill was no longer deemed suitable. I started to get intermittent bleeding between periods, tender breasts, awful headaches and a real feeling of bloatedness - something I'd never experienced before. I was about to get married at the time, so was under a lot of personal stress. The condition of my skin deteriorated and I started getting lots of spots, which left me feeling very depressed. It felt like a nightmare vicious circle. When you're getting married, you're desperate to look like a princess - but my body seemed be refusing to cooperate. At one point I thought I would not be able to fit into my wedding dress because I was so bloated all of the time. Eventually, I decided I'd had enough and went to see a family planning adviser. After listing all my problems, she mentioned the new contraceptive pill, Yasmin. I was told Yasmin would help my skin look better, that my hair would be less oily and more glossy, and, most importantly, that it would help stop the bloating. Although it wasn't available on prescription at the time, I was told I could take it on a trial basis. I didn't even hesitate. The combined package of benefits was exactly what I needed. I jumped at the chance. For the first month of taking it, I actually felt quite nauseous and the pills didn't seem to agree with me at all. But my family planning adviser said that the nausea was completely normal. I'd been taking a different contraceptive pill - and therefore a different drug - for nearly ten years, so there was bound to be an adjustment period. After the first month, the improvement was fantastic. I stopped getting the "spotting" between periods, and over the next few months my skin cleared completely. It helped me regain all the confidence I'd lost. Now, 13 months on, I'm 100 per cent happy with Yasmin and I recommend it to all my friends. The base level benefits - such as not getting pregnant and the cycle control - work exactly as they should. But above and beyond that is the fact that Yasmin controls the bloatedness and all the other awful things I was experiencing on my previous contraceptive pill.” If Kathy’s story wasn’t enough, just listen to what Dr Mansour had to say in her praise of Yasmin, where 90% of the 60 women taking Yasmin prescribed by Newcastle Primary Care Trust, were still on the treatment after three months. Dr Mansour comments: “That's a much higher rate than with the standard pill we prescribe, Microgynon 30, when only 78 per cent of patients are still taking it after three months. Basically, if you're using a pill that actually has a health benefit, then you're much more likely to stick with it and the women we've prescribed Yasmin to, are far happier using it than previous contraceptive pills they've been on.” So, there you have it. We hope women now feel a little more clued up about the wide range of contraceptive pills that are available, and the added benefits that some of them have besides their primary purpose. For further information though, feel free to visit the Women’s Health section of the Medical Specialists website where we offer female contraceptives such as Yasmin, Marvelon, Dianette and Levonelle 1500 (Morning after pill), as well as medications for other conditions such as female hair loss and sexual health.