A woman encouraged to take the contraceptive pill after her requests for permanent sterilisation were refused has spurred others to share their experiences of the medication.
Many young women bravely discussed their negative reactions to the pill using the hashtag #MyPillStory.
Suicidal. Incessant relentless panic attacks. Fatigue. Constant crying. Headaches. No interest in anything. #mypillstory— Challis Zillwood (@challiszillwood) March 31, 2016
#MyPillStory depressed, lethargic, dissociated. sleeping for over 12 hours a day and still exhausted. reluctant to ever try it again.— shit face (@pipsuxx) March 31, 2016
The hashtag was started on Twitter by tech journalist Kate Bevan, in support of her friend, Holly Brockwell.
Brockwell does not want children, and has fought for a sterilisation on the NHS since the age of 26. Instead, she was repeatedly told to take the pill.
Fascinated reading the tweets on #MyPillStory. I'm constantly told "just take the pill" but look what it can do to people— Holly Brockwell (@holly) March 31, 2016
When a man on Facebook told Brockwell that she should just take the pill, she replied: "Do you know what it's like to bleed for a month? Have you spent mornings off work because you're throwing up from hormones you don't need to put in your body?
"Have you called NHS direct because your leg feels weird and you're worried your high-risk pill has given you a fatal blood clot?"
In response to Brockwell's story, women began telling their experiences of the contraceptive pill.
#mypillstory depression caused by Microgynon, then acne caused by cerazette. Yasmin worked but told the risk of blood clots/stroke bigger.— Ashley (@ashleyfryer) March 31, 2016
#MyPillStory Yas made my male-pattern baldness 10 times worse, abolished my sex drive & made me cry at the drop of a hat. Grrrrreat.— Natalie (@moglits) March 31, 2016
Bevan told HuffPost UK: "I'm rather moved that so many people, men and women, shared their very personal stories.
"The pill is still a great choice for many women. There are too many places in the world where contraception and abortion aren't easily available. Holly's battle is part of that bigger picture, about our right to control our reproductive lives, and that remains tremendously, depressingly important," she added.
Women who took to Twitter to complain about the side-effects of the pill also said that in some cases, doctors did not adequately explain the full range of contraceptive choices, and rushed to prescribe the pill.
Cant believe how quick they were to give me the pill in addition to implant hormones, no discussion, no info.Was very depressed #MyPillStory— Jessie (@JessicaMKMee) March 31, 2016
Dr Petra Boynton, agony aunt for The Telegraph, urged healthcare professionals to think twice before automatically offering the pill.
I'd encourage healthcare staff who provide contraception to check out #MyPillStory and remember to offer+explain ALL appropriate choices— Petra Boynton (@DrPetra) March 31, 2016
However, some have used the hashtag to remind women that the pill can work for many people.
#mypillstory Took it for 30 years, no problems, no unwanted babies. It may not work for all but it transformed millions of women's lives.— Fenella lewin (@Flanjamin) April 1, 2016
A spokesperson for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said:
“Women should continue to take their contraceptive pill. These are very safe, highly effective medicines for preventing unintended pregnancy and the benefits associated with their use far outweigh their risks.
“In some women, hormonal contraceptives can initially cause side effects, most commonly headaches, nausea, breast tenderness and mood swings.
“If women have any questions, they should discuss them with their GP."