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contraception

There is an app for everything nowadays, from planning your weekly budget to scoring your next date, but would you trust an app with your fertility?

Natural Cycles promises to utilise science to advise you on when you are or are not fertile at various points in your monthly cycle. 

The app promotes a non hormonal method of contraception, and judges whether you are fertile or not.

 

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So, how does it work? Well, you measure your temperature first thing in the morning before you get out of bed.

'This reading is an indirect measure of your hormone levels and the information the app needs to effectively analyse your cycle and calculate your red or green day.'

The app was devised by a couple called  Elina and Raoul Berglund for their own use, but they soon wanted the method to be accessible to all women. 

 

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'The couple was unsatisfied with what they found and both to having been active for many years in research in physics, they decided to apply their knowledge in advanced mathematics and data analysis to develop a solution to meet their needs.'

'An algorithm that accurately detects and predicts ovulation and fertility.'

'In the beginning, they used the algorithm for their own purposes but soon realised that this was a huge unmet need amongst women and decided to develop a mobile app.'

The goal was to create a contraceptive option without any of the side effects of chemical methods. 

As the app gets to know you body better through your temperature readings, it is more accurately able to predict your most fertile days in real time. 

However, if you are someone who experiences changes during your cycle, or you're not the most regular, then this app may not be the best option.

 

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The app is definitely a welcome development for women seeking a hormone-free method of contraception.

However, it may be more suited for women who are actively trying to get pregnant, to know when they are most fertile to aid with family planning. 

 

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An estimated 100 million women around the world use the contraceptive pill everyday.

They give us the option to plan and control our reproductive choices, but they can also bring on some pretty awful side effects.

In a recent study, scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden confirmed that this popular form of contraception can actually have a negative impact on a woman's quality of life. 

Researchers gave 340 healthy women aged between 18 and 35 either hormonal contraceptive pills or placebos over a three month period.

The results found that the women who took the hormonal pill reported reduced feelings of overall well-being, including negative impacts on mood, self-control and energy.

However, researchers did note that despite these findings, the pill didn’t actually appear to increase the participants’ risk of depression.

In a slightly concerning statement on the institute’s website, the scientists admitted that the medical community knows “surprisingly little” about how the pill can effect a woman’s health, and emphasized the need for further studies into the subject.

They also noted that because the changes observed between the participants were relatively small, the results should be interpreted cautiously. 

However, the study's co-author, Dr. Niklas Zethraeus, did encourage women to take these findings into account when choosing a method of contraception. 

So, if you reckon your pill is making you feel a bit worse for wear, you're not the only one. 

 

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According to more than 40 years of research, the contraceptive pill can protect women against certain types of cancer.

The study, which was carried out at the University of Aberdeen, reports that women are less likely to suffer from bowl cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer after using the pill, and it can protect you for up to 30 years after.

The research, which studied 46,000 women for 44 years, also debunked the myth that taking the pill can lead to breast cancer in later life – it does not.

Image result for the contraceptive pill

The Oral Contraception Study first began in 1968, by the Royal College of General Practitioners to investigate the side effects of taking birth control.

Dr Lisa Iversen, the lead researcher said: "What we found from looking at up to 44 years' worth of data, was that having ever used the pill, women are less likely to get colorectal, endometrial and ovarian cancer.

"So, the protective benefits from using the pill during their reproductive years are lasting for at least 30 years after women have stopped using the pill.

Image result for the contraceptive pill

"We did not find any evidence of new cancer risks appearing later in life as women get older.

"These results from the longest-running study in the world into oral contraceptive use are reassuring.

"Specifically, pill users don't have an overall increased risk of cancer over their lifetime and that the protective effects of some specific cancers last for at least 30 years," she added.

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It's hard to belive that just over a decade ago, the morning after pill was illegal on Irish shores.

While it was legalised in 2003, it has only been available from your local pharmacy since 2011, with a consultation.

According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the morning-after pill should be available to buy straight from pharmacy shelves without the need for a private patient consultation.

These consultations usually consist of a short meeting to discus general details, allergies, and contraceptive methods, according to one pharmacist.

The price of these pills comes in at about €35, the highest price in Europe, and according to the BPAS "women are paying the ultimate sexist surcharge on their sex lives,"because of the inflated price.

The emergency contraceptive is available on the medical card, but only after a GP visit to procure a prescription.

"This is neither right nor fair," says the BPAS.

"It is utterly stupid that we have made a medication which gives women a second chance of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy so hard to obtain,” said Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS.

BPAS is calling on the Department of Health to reclassify the morning-after pill as a general sales list drug, which would allow people to buy it directly from shop shelves like condoms. 

“There is no financial justification for the high price of this pill, nor clinical reason for a consultation before it can be sold," said the chief executive.  

According to the BPAS, eliminating the need for the consultation could drive down the price of the pills.

The price of the pill has been branded as "sexist," after one Pharmaceutical Journal report said that the price was to ensure women wouldn't take the pill often.

"The price has been set, in part, to ensure that EHC is not used as a regular method of contraception," it read.

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Having recently been linked to depression, often associated with weight gain and commonly blamed for breakouts, it’s safe to say the contraceptive pill has a bit of a bad rep.

But thankfully for its users, there could be one unusual benefit to taking progesterone only and combined pills – and no it’s not just the prevention of unplanned pregnancies.

Research conducted at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that the pill could help prevent common illnesses like the flu.

Taking female mice as participants, the study found that animals with higher levels of progesterone in their bodies had better functioning immune systems than those in possession of lower doses of the hormone.

Because progesterone is found in the majority of pills, those who’ve been prescribed the contraceptive could have boosted immune systems and therefore be better able to fight Winter ailments.

While it is still very early days, if the study’s findings are found to be applicable to humans, it would mean that the pill could have real benefits for parts of the body beyond the reproductive system.

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A newly published study from the University of Copenhagen has found that women who take the contraceptive pill are more likely to suffer from depression.

After studying the health records of more than one million Danish women aged 15 to 34, researchers found that those taking the combined pill – which contains artificial varieties of oestrogen and progesterone – were 23 percent more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant than those who were not on a hormonal form of contraceptive.

Scarily, that figure rose to 34 percent for takers of progestin-only pills and up to 80 percent for teens aged between 15 and 19 who were on the combined pill.

Researcher Professor Øjvind Lidegaard told the BBC that the three year study’s most significant finding was the extent to which cases of depression increased among young women with no previous mental health issues once they began taking the combined pill.

He said: “If it is increasing by 80 percent it is not a trivial finding, it's something women should be fully informed about.”

While critics of the study have been quick to point out that the results do not prove that the pill causes depression, only that it is link to it, Professor Lidegaard believes hormonal contraceptives are inducing depression.

“We cannot see any other explanation,” he said.

The study – which is one of the largest of its kind – also found an association between depression and other forms of hormonal contraceptives like implants, the coil and vaginal rings.

A 2014 study by Bayer found that Ireland has one of the lowest rates of contraceptive use in the EU, while births to teenage mothers here remain among the highest.

Among those using contraception, the pill was found to be the most popular method of choice.

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While feeling forgetful is often associated with old age, a new study has revealed that stress is causing young Irish women to forget some very important tasks.

60 percent of female Irish millennials were found to be so consumed by stress that they were failing to take care of everyday jobs like taking their contraceptive pill, while 30 percent admitted that forgetfulness has become a regular feature of their everyday lives.

According to the survey – which was conducted by Bayer to mark World Contraception Day – a huge number of 21 to 29-year-olds are at risk of having an unplanned pregnancy, with 70 percent admitting they were more likely to miss their pill when stressed.

As reported by The Irish Mirror, one in seven women admitted to forgetting to take their pill once or twice a month.

Other basic tasks like removing makeup at night and putting a phone on charge were also affected during times of worry.

Professor Sabina Brennan from Trinity College told The Irish Mirror that the results of the survey add to existing research which suggests that stress and memory are connected.

She said: “Stress isn’t always a bad thing; a properly controlled stress response can give us extra energy and focus needed to cope with challenge.”

“But in today’s complex world psychological and social stressors can be unrelenting for millennial women, and can affect health, well-being and even memory.”

Spa day anyone?

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Let's face it ladies. Whether you are popping a pill everyday or got a literal bar inserted into your arm, women totally take the brunt of the hassle when it comes to contraception. 

And perhaps that fair enough considering we are the ones who can get pregnant, but would you rely on a male contraceptive device?

Because this may be a real possibility in the near future. 

The Bimek SLV is being described as a "sperm switch" which essentially allows a man to be able to switch off his sperm. 

Nifty. 

Yep, this little device allows it's user to be able to temporarily block his own sperm tubes and the SLV can be inserted into the man's penis in a half-hour long operation. 

The device is currently being tested but the company hopes to raise five million dollars through crowdfunding to bring the project to the mainstream. 

We think this sounds like a handy little gizmo, but not sure we would be jumping to have a proper operation on our privates… 

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