Each week, we submit your questions to our experts. This week we asked Dr Katherine Hanks (GP) some questions about the pill and pregnancy…

My ex-partner had HSV2. I don’t think it was transmitted to me but can I ever be certain? I have HSV1″

A blood test for HSV (herpes simplex virus) does exist but it isn’t usually recommended as a screening test. This is because it isn’t a very helpful test. If it is positive, we wouldn’t recommend doing anything different, and it doesn’t tell us when you were exposed or what your chance is of having a herpes outbreak in the future. Many people can carry HSV1 and 2 without ever having an outbreak. But if you go on to get painful ulcers or blisters on your genitals, a swab test can help confirm the diagnosis of genital herpes.

“I am 2 days from my period and I have cervical mucus. Could that be a sign that I am pregnant?” 

Cervical mucous is an unreliable sign of what is going on in your body. Lots of different things can impact what a healthy discharge looks like. So if you think you might be pregnant, a home pregnancy test is an easy and reliable way to find out- so long as it has been at least 4 weeks since your last period. If you aren’t sure, your doctor can arrange a blood pregnancy test which is even more accurate.

“I‘m 42 and have gone back on the pill to control my period. Am I too old for the pill?”

Up until age 50, the combined contraceptive pill is considered safe, so long as you don’t have extra risk factors for heart disease or strokes. These other risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking and a BMI over 30. If you do have extra risk factors, there are other options to control heavy bleeding like the progesterone IUD (Mirena) and depo progesterone injections. Pregnancy is possible even into your 50s so it’s good to know all of these options cover you for contraception too.

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