Each week, we submit your questions to our experts. This week we asked Dr Katherine Hanks (GP) some questions about the pill being vegan and fertility…
“ Are there Vegan birth control options? If so, what are they?”
Unfortunately, most hormonal contraceptives either have animal ingredients such as lactose from milk or may have animal-derived hormones. Depot injections are a synthetic form of progesterone but like all hormonal contraceptives would have been tested on animals at some point. The copper IUD is an option that has no animal products, although this is not suitable for all people. Latex usually has animal products involved in their production so this rules out a lot of condoms and diaphragms. Non-latex condoms, such as Glyde brand, have no animal products and the fertility awareness methods (cycle tracking) doesn’t involve any medications or devices. Finally, permanent surgical methods such as tubal ligation and vasectomy are an option if you have completed your family or don’t want children.
This being said, the Vegan Society says “The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use in a non-vegan world. Sometimes, you may have no alternative to medication manufactured using animal products. Even if other medications are available, they may be less effective, have more side effects or be unsuitable for your healthcare needs. While it can be upsetting to compromise our vegan beliefs, we encourage vegans to look after their health and that of others, enabling them to be effective advocates for veganism.”
“ Do treatments like skin needling assist with scars and stretch marks?”
There is not great quality evidence for any specific treatments for stretch marks, but small studies do show some benefits from micro-needling and laser treatments for stretch marks. These can be quite expensive but are usually pretty low risk, so they might be worth a go if you want to try something. Scar appearance can also improve with these treatments, but also may respond to other treatments like steroid injections, silicon and taping.
“ I’ve been on the pill for 6+ years. Could this affect my fertility?”
I hear versions of this question every week, as there are a lot of rumours and myths out there that the pill damages your fertility and that you can only use it for a few years. The good news is that the contraceptive pill does not affect your fertility, for short or long term use. So if it suits you and you want to keep going, you don’t have to worry about effects on your fertility.
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