FSRH press statement: FSRH responds to article by Mail Online about updated guidelines on combined hormonal contraception

Posted 21 January 2019

Date: 21 Jan 2019

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Mail Online has published an article about the updated FSRH guidelines on combined hormonal contraception launched today. Article follows a piece by the Sunday Telegraph and is factually inaccurate. Guidelines are not NHS guidance and do not state it is safe to take the contraceptive pill every day of the month without any risk.

The article states that the updated FSRH guidelines recommend that women can take the combined contraceptive pill every day of the month without any risk; the seven-day break previously required in order to 'make it acceptable for Catholics to use' provides little benefit to the user; and that the FSRH guidelines are NHS guidance. None of these statements are factually accurate.

FSRH would like to clarify the following:

  • FSRH guidelines are not NHS guidance and are not statutory. FSRH is a professional membership organisation who produces evidence-based clinical guidance to support healthcare professionals to prescribe contraception safely and effectively. Our guidelines are accredited by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
  • Non-clinical recommendations or statements such as that the seven-day break was required 'to make it acceptable for Catholics to use' are not part of the updated FSRH guidance on combined hormonal contraception. This is a quote by Professor John Guillebaud which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph article. FSRH guidelines solely contain clinical recommendations for safe and effective prescription of contraception based on the latest available scientific evidence. It is a clinical guideline intended for clinicians to use in their daily practice.
  • The updated FSRH guidelines on combined hormonal contraception highlights that there is no health benefit from the seven-day hormone-free interval. However, as this this new guideline highlights, it is already well established that there are some health risks associated with use of combined hormonal contraception. Women should be aware that there is a range of other contraceptive options available to them free of charge on the NHS that are not associated with these health risks; some of these contraceptive options are significantly more effective for contraception than combined hormonal contraception.


  • Combined hormonal contraception (CHC) includes the combined contraceptive pill, transdermal patch and vaginal ring.
  • The Mail Online article can be found here.
  • The FSRH guidelines offer support for clinicians to inform women as to how to take combined hormonal contraception, what to do if they don’t use it correctly and symptoms that should prompt women to seek medical advice. The updated FSRH Guideline Combined Hormonal Contraception can be found here. The press release can be found here.
  • The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ. You can read more about FSRH here: https://www.fsrh.org/home/

For further information please contact:
Camila Azevedo
FSRH External Affairs & Standards Manager
Email: externalaffairmanager@fsrh.org
Telephone: 02037945309