The U.K. National Health Services, or NHS, has updated its contraceptive guide, telling women that it is ok not to take the placebo from their pack of birth control pills.
The public health agency admitted that there is no health benefit from taking a seven-day break from birth control pill. In fact, continuously taking oral contraceptives has been associated with a reduced risk of endometrial, ovarian, and colorectal cancer, improve symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and provide some relief from endometriosis and premenstrual syndrome.
The Story Behind The Sugar Pill
Experts have known for quite some time that it is safe and, sometimes, more beneficial for women to take birth control pills without a seven-day break in between packets. There are no benefits reaped from withdrawal bleeding; in fact, gynecologists agree that skipping a period is not harmful to the woman's health.
The seven inactive pills in a packet of birth control pills are there for no medical reasons. According to Science Alert, those sugar pills are included in the packet in order to placate the wrath of the Catholic Church.
Apparently, in the 60s, one of the gynecologists behind the pill, John Rock, knew that the Catholic Church and its followers would reject the oral contraceptive. He figured that for it to be accepted by religious people, it had to be sold as a "natural" form of birth control based on the woman's normal cycle.
However, the plan was unsuccessful. In 1968, Pope Paul VI declared that all forms of artificial contraception, including birth control pills, are against the doctrines of the church.
Unfortunately, the sugar pills stayed. For 60 years, women who take birth control pills are still forced to have their periods every month.
365-Day Pill Prescription
Right now, most birth control packets still have 21 pills to be taken for one month. However, experts hope that if the guidelines were followed, the public would see 365-day pill prescriptions being sold in the market.
"The guideline suggests that by taking fewer hormone-free intervals — or shortening them to four days — it is possible that women could reduce the risk of getting pregnant on combined hormonal contraception," stated Diana Mansour, the vice president for clinical quality at the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare.