Can I take Hana® if I’m ill?
When you’re ill, the last thing you want is to be feeling rubbish and worrying about whether or not your contraceptive pill will remain effective.
It’s a strange time to fall ill at the minute, so it’s important to know what kinds of illness might impact the effectiveness of your pill, so we spoke to Dr Sally Green (MBChB, DRCOG, FPCert)* – a GP who works in a sexual health clinic – about what symptoms to look out for, and what a bout of ill health could mean for your contraception.
When does being ill impact the pill?
“As long as you are not vomiting or have diarrhoea, and you continue to take your progestogen-only pill at the same time every day, the pill should still work,” says Dr Green.
“However, If you do stop taking the pill when feeling unwell, you should restart as soon as you are well again. If you restart taking your contraceptive pill on any day other than the first day of your period, a barrier method of contraception should be used for 7 days” Dr Green adds.
“If you are sick within three to four hours of taking your pill, it won’t have had a chance to be absorbed into your body and you’ll need to take another pill,” says Dr Green. “If you are sick all day, the day should be counted as a ‘missed pill’. Take another pill as soon as you are able to – even if this means taking two pills in one day. The following day, take your next pill at your usual time. If you are any more than 12 hours late in taking your pill, you should use condoms for the following 7 days to ensure you remain protected against pregnancy.”
You might feel lethargic and sleep more when unwell, so make sure you set an alarm to remind you to take your pill if you’re worried you might forget.
What if I am sick for longer than 24 hours?
“If you get really unlucky and are ill for a longer period of time, you will need to keep taking your pills at the same time as usual, but your protection may be compromised,” says Dr Green. “In this case, it’s advised that you also adopt a method of barrier contraception like condoms.”
“If you’ve missed more than one pill, take the last pill you missed and carry on taking your pill as normal from that day. You should use condoms for the next 7 days, to ensure you are as protected as possible” says Dr Green.
What happens if I’ve missed more than one pill?
If you are using a pill which contains desogestrel, like Hana®, you are still protected if you manage to take your pill within 12 hours of when you normally would take it. If this occurs, simply carry on taking the remainder of your pill packet as you normally would.
“If the protection window has passed, it counts as a ‘missed pill’,” says Dr Green. “Take your missed pill as soon as you are able. Again, this may mean you take two pills in one day. Carry on with the rest of the pack of pills as normal, but make sure to use additional protection (like condoms) for 7 days after the missed pill has been consumed. Progestogen-only pills work by preventing ovulation and thickening cervical mucus.”
If you have any concerns about not being protected, the best thing you can do to keep your mind at ease is use condoms or an alternative contraceptive barrier method.
Will different contraceptive pills make me feel unwell?
“When you first start taking either the combined or progestogen-only pill, you might feel hormonal or moody,” says Dr Green. “Some common side effects include hormonal skin spots, breast tenderness, decreased libido, altered mood, irregular menstruation, nausea and headaches, but these usually subside within a few months.”
On the whole, there is only cause for worry if you are unwell in a way that might affect whether the pill is absorbed into your system. If you are unwell but experiencing symptoms other than vomiting or diarrhoea, it’s unlikely that this would interfere with the effectiveness of your contraception. However, it is important to consider if any medications that you are taking might interact with your contraception.