Updated blood pressure readings if you are taking combined hormonal contraception

posted by: Frances Mutter

Why do we need an up to date blood pressure (BP ) reading to start or continue with Combined Hormonal Contraception (CHC) – including the Combined Oral Contraceptive pill (COCP ), Vaginal Ring or Patch?

Use of one of these contraception methods gives a small chance of increases in your BP.  High BP increases the risk of Myocardial Infarction (heart attack) and stroke.  It is recommended that a woman wishing to continue using CHC should have her BP checked before starting the pill, before receiving the first lot of repeat pills, and then yearly.

If your BP is too high, you will need to come off this pill or method.

But don’t worry if your BP is too high, there are plenty of other methods to choose from.  If you like using a pill, you can swap to the Progestogen Only Pill (POP or mini pill).  It works in the same way as the COCP, is as effective as the COCP but without the risks. 

During the pandemic, we have not been able to offer our usual service of seeing everyone face to face.  All patients need to have a telephone consultation first.

You may need to provide an up to date reading yourself. This may involve you having to purchase your own home BP machine.

Here is a link for the machines we recommend and also how to record your BP:


So when you ring in for a telephone consultation, don’t be surprised when we ask you for a BP. We are happy to accept this BP reading if you have followed the above advice.  You will also need to provide an up to date height and weight.

The BP machine will need to be recalibrated every 2 years and this involves it being sent back to the manufacturer.

 

We are now able to offer a Monday – Friday self service BP check here.

This will be held every Monday to Friday from 09.00 -17.00 hours  at our clinic in Sidwell Street unless it is a bank holiday Monday or there are  are circumstances beyond our control 

You do not need to book an appointment.

This facility is only for our patients who have already had a telephone consultation by a member of our staff and you have received the BP link from us.   You need to present at reception with your unique clinic number which we will have sent you once we have spoken to you.  You will be given a slip of paper to write your BP reading down on and post back in the BP box back at reception.

You will NOT collect any pills at this clinic.  Your BP will be  be passed onto a clinician who will review your notes a couple of days later.  You will then have a message sent to you informing whether your pills are being sent out to you or you can collect them – this depends on what was agreed at your telephone consultation.

If the readings are not within normal limits and you are not able to have the pill, we will also contact you.

Do NOT attend for this if

  • if you or any of your household contacts have any signs or symptoms of Covid 19
  • if you are awaiting the results of a test or if someone has had a positive Covid test in the last seven days
  • if you have had contact with someone know to have Covid 19 within the past two week
  • if you have been told to self-isolate.

You will also need to attend alone and wearing a face covering.

Please don’t leave it to the last moment to request more pills – contact us as soon as you have started your last strip.

The pill is not the most reliable method of contraception  so we can discuss your options, including the current availability of long acting contraception (LARC).


Our website has all this information or else give us a call on 0300 303 3989.


We want you have a method of contraception that you are happy with but it must also be one that is safe for you.

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Accessing our service during the COVID pandemic

We have implemented a telephone triage system for all of our clinics. This system will be in place for the duration of the pandemic. Our central telephone number is 0300 303 3989.

We have updated information on the provision of routine contraception during this pandemic here.

Self-requested STI testing by post is available for those aged under 25- more info

We are now running an under 18’s sit and wait clinic at Exeter, Torquay, and Barnstaple for more information click here

Despite any changes made to COVID risk measures outside of NHS premises our staff, patients and visitors will be expected to continue to follow social distancing rules when visiting our clinics, including wearing a face covering. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been requested to self-isolate please do not attend the clinic.

If you are struggling to access sexual health services, alternatives may be available:

  • Emergency Contraception - from a local pharmacy - more info
  • Contraceptive pills and LARC procedures - obtained from your GP
  • HIV PEPSE - available via A+E departments - more info
  • Condoms by post (for gay and bisexual men only) - more info