‘The Pill Revolution’: Why Employers Need to Talk About Contraception

Francesca Steyn RN

June 8, 2023

Are you familiar with how contraception is impacting your workforce? Davina McCall is once again tackling the women’s health taboo in her new documentary, ‘The Pill Revolution’.

Here are some of the facts:

  • More than 3 million women in the UK are on the pill (that’s approaching 10% of the female population) 
  • 9 in 10 women who receive some form of contraception from their GP take either the combined pill or the ‘mini pill’
  • By contrast, just over 10% of women have been prescribed contraceptive injections, 3.7% the implant and 4.4% the “coil” (hormonal or non-hormonal) 

First introduced to the NHS in the early 1960s, the pill was a healthcare breakthrough, empowering women and girls. From managing severe PMS to avoiding pregnancy while having an active sex life, there are countless benefits to contraception. 

But the point Davina has made is that, whilst most women are readily offered the pill with few questions asked, the journey to finding the right contraception can be a long and arduous one, filled with unpleasant side effects and misinformed Google searches. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

Could this be the wake up call your organisation needs to stop viewing contraception as a private matter, and start taking action to support a very normal part of women’s health that is impacting a large proportion of your workforce?

The impact of contraception on your workforce

‘The Pill Revolution’ discusses the fact that 77% of pill users say they have experienced side effects. These most commonly include mood swings, headaches, breast tenderness and spotting, and much more rarely can include blood clots. 

It’s a high proportion, and may be considered a high price to pay to be on contraception, but it’s important to note that few effective alternatives to the pill are side-effect-free. Whilst there is a shift towards the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) as an alternative to the pill (including the non-hormonal copper coil (IUD), the hormonal coil (IUS), the contraceptive injection and implant), all LARCs also carry a low risk of similar common side effects. 

As 90% of working-age women have used some form of contraception throughout their lives, a high number of women in your workforce will be taking contraception, and either experiencing, wondering or worrying about its side effects (quite possibly all three).

Employees are facing a contraception maze

From hormonal to non-hormonal, pills to patches to copper coils, the choices around contraception today are almost overwhelming. With the right support, there is contraception to fit most people’s lifestyles, bodies and needs. Sometimes, not necessarily always, that will be the pill. 

But in order for us to stop demonising contraception and start empowering women to find the right fit for them, we need to overcome two challenges.

Firstly, the challenge of capacity. In the UK, we are in a privileged position that contraception can be obtained for free, but our healthcare system is not currently equipped to provide half the population with regular personalised advice and support around contraception.

Secondly, the challenge of accessible, trustworthy information. Last year, our research revealed that 65% of women turn to Google as their primary source for help with health concerns. In ‘The Pill Revolution’, Davina touches on recent research that shows over a quarter of young adults in the UK now get their news from TikTok. There’s a rising risk of misinformation around health and contraceptive, plus a rising need for reliable, expert-led, impartial information. 

With so much choice around contraception and so little vetted information available, how can women be expected to make the best choice?

Employers hold the key to help women navigate the maze of contraception by giving them the specialised resources and personalised guidance they need. 

Employers can revolutionise contraception care

In her documentary, Davina says that she is “really, really angry … but also really full of hope” about the state of contraception today. 

Thankfully, the pill and women’s health more generally are going through a revolution;  hard-working healthcare providers, campaigning groups, politicians and celebrities are all to thank for this, as well as a growing number of employers. 

Because employers are uniquely positioned to support women’s health by giving their people fast, trustworthy, caring, confidential support – at the touch of a button. 

Peppy, the digital health platform trusted by employers including Accenture and BNP Paribas, connects employees to women’s health resources and expert clinicians in an instant. Contraception is just one of the many areas of women’s health covered by the team of expert women’s health experts at Peppy. 

On the Peppy app, employees can chat one-to-one with highly-trained experts about any side effects they are experiencing, discuss their options in-depth during a 40-minute virtual consultation, and take advantage of the articles, videos and educational programmes that deep-dive into contraception. 

Topics covered by Peppy include:

  • Understanding your natural cycle
  • Which contraception is right for you?
  • What you need to know about emergency contraception
  • Can the pill affect your fertility?
  • Contraception myth busting

We know the world of contraception can be complicated, confusing and underserved – but with the right support, it doesn’t have to be.

Become a top employer for women

Hiring and retaining female talent across all levels of an organisation remains to be a priority for businesses around the world, but our research with REBA last year revealed that only 1 in 5 organisations offers specifically female-focused health and wellbeing benefits.

In order to be a desirable employer for women, you must put their health and personal ambitions first. 

Supporting women’s health and providing specialist guidance around contraception options and decision-making is not just a tick-box exercise; it’s a meaningful, impactful benefit that empowers women in all aspects of their lives. 

It’s time to break down the taboo surrounding contraception and make this a normal conversation in your workplace. Davina’s documentary is a great place to start. The next step is to find out how contraception is impacting your workforce and take advantage of the tools that will help your people navigate this path of their health journey. 

Along with others, Davina has started this conversation. Now, it’s time to continue it and take action in your workplace. So, are you ready to join the revolution?

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