MEET THE GIRLS SPEAKING UP ABOUT THE PILL THAT’S CUTTING COSTS, BUT COSTING HEALTH
Updated: Apr 26
Doctors are switching girls onto cheaper contraception pills, such as Rigevidon. The hidden expense? Thousands of young women left reeling from the detrimental physical and mental side effects. Alice Pearson finds out more.
Almost 9 in 10 women who receive contraception from the GP are prescribed the pill. Rigevidon is one of the cheapest and widely prescribed pills available on the NHS. Rigevidon costs the NHS £8.19 for a year’s supply, which is £55.51 cheaper than its supposedly ‘identical’ pill, Yasmin. Yet, a Change.org petition received over 27,000 signatures calling for Rigevidon to be banned after an alarming number of women, from what they say, began to develop side effects they’d previously never experienced on other pills.
Meet the girls who are speaking up about the pill.
This is Molly’s story:
“I was told it was the same pill and was just made by a different company so thought nothing of it,” says Molly, 20, who had her pill swapped to Rigevidon after being on Microgynon 30 for years. After struggling with eating disorders and depression, Molly was just 15 when her GP put her on the pill to try and fix her problems by balancing her hormones. Due to it being supposedly ‘indistinguishable’ from her last pill, Molly’s doctor did not inform her of any potential side effects of Rigevidon.
Molly was prescribed the pill when she was 15, in an attempt to balance her hormones.
Within 6 months, Molly’s mental state dramatically declined. “I just stopped caring about everything and then I lost my appetite,” she said. She decided to talk to her GP about her concerns. “The doctor made me feel stupid for blaming my side effects on the pill, but finally agreed to changed it”.
Less than six months later, she was switched back to Rigevidon.
Almost 9 in 10 women who receive contraception from the GP are prescribed the pill. Rigevidon is one of the cheapest and widely prescribed pills available on the NHS. Yet, a Change.org petition received over 27,000 signatures calling for Rigevidon to be banned after an alarming number of women began to develop serious side-effects that they’d previously never experienced on other pills.
Doctors across the UK are swapping women from safer and thoroughly tested contraception to cheaper generic versions, like Rigevidon. The NHS continues to claim that they’re simply ‘identical’ pills in different packaging.
Yet, Dr. Hannah Batchelor, a leading expert of Biomedical Sciences, warned that despite Rigevidon containing similar hormone levels to Microgynon: “there are differences…certainly in the side effect profile of the two products”.
Furthermore, a study by the University of Copenhagen proved that combined pills, including Rigevidon, increased the risk of depression in young women by 80%. Meaning due to Molly’s previous medical history, she should never have been prescribed Rigevidon.
In a survey of 100 young women, I found that 91% of them were not asked about their previous mental health when prescribed the pill.
This is Nia’s story:
In 2015, Fallan Kurak, 21, a teaching assistant, was prescribed Rigevidon to regulate her periods. Twenty-Five days later, Fallen died due to a clot that was directly caused by her contraceptive pill. Just a week earlier, Fallen had gone to see her GP after she experienced pains in her chest, but she wasn’t taken seriously.
Despite the NHS pushing statistics to try to reassure us that serious implications from the pill are uncommon, one life is too many. The women behind the statistics deserve better than to have their lives potentially ruined or ended by their contraceptive pill.
But, as stated by Nia in the video, girls need to take a more active role in their health. You need to research your contraception, its side effects, and know when and how to speak up if you have concerns:
Know the side effects.
Know your contraceptive options.
Speak up if you feel like something isn’t quite right,
(I received a 1st (75%) for this feature)
View my editorial collection surrounding the issue, entitled 'An Ode To The Forgotten Women.'
The series of shoots were inspired by the women I spoke to, in attempt to visualise the feelings of neglect and isolation when they're prescribed the contraceptive pill or try to ask for help.
This was a project I enjoyed the most last term. I really pushed myself with the video content, as I incorporated my own video, narration, illustration and animation to support the article interview. The editorial content I was also pleased with. The second shoot was complete during hotel isolation when I was unable to leave my hotel room for 14 days. If I was to improve this project, I wish I could of done a deeper dive as its a topic I'm really passionate about and don't think its spoken about enough. I would of liked to widen the range of editorial content.