talkhealth meets... Dr Frances Yarlett

The world of contraception can be confusing. We don’t blame you if you feel a little daunted when you are looking for your own or starting the search with your child. The options have changed so much since the 60s, when the first contraceptive pill was introduced. From injections and implants to condoms and the coil, we want to help you make the right decision. 

That’s why we are so excited to be working with Dr Frances Yartlett, a women’s health specialist and expert at The Lowdown. Before her webinar in April, we asked her some questions to find out more about contraception in the 21st century.

Watch Dr Frances' webinar here 

Why is women’s health so important to you? 

As a female GP, women always feel more comfortable telling me about their intimate issues than my male colleagues. I love helping women with vulval and sexual problems as I like making women feel at ease to openly discuss their concerns. Particularly because these problems can often cause upset and embarrassment. 

Contraceptives have changed so much over recent years. What do you think is the most exciting development?

I think the development of long-acting reversible contraception is ground-breaking because women now have effective contraception that they don’t have to think about every day. I am excited by the ongoing research and development in male contraception. Both hormonal and non-hormonal methods of reversible male contraception are being trialled. It would be refreshing for men to have a choice other than a permanent vasectomy or condoms.

What are three key things someone should consider when choosing their contraception?

You should consider how you want to take your contraception (pill, injection, inside their body etc), how long you need contraception for or if you want a family soon. It’s also important to consider your side effect profile and medical history. That’s why an in depth conversation with a healthcare professional can really help you find the best contraception for you. 

What are your thoughts on the pill being available over the counter?

It's important to say that the progestogen only pill is the only one available over the counter. The combined pill still requires a prescription. 

I believe that easy access to contraception is paramount, it needs to be easier to access contraception than it is to get pregnant! This is especially true for teenagers and vulnerable women. In the future, it would be great if women could get the pill from pharmacies without a prescription and for free. My only caveat is that women who buy the pill need to be aware of and educated on the potential side effects.

Have you seen a shift in the way that people approach contraception over your career? 

Through my work with The Lowdown, I have found people are taking more control over their contraception choice and really want to understand how it affects their body. People are less likely to accept a "one size fits all" approach and are looking for individualised methods that work for them. 

How can you tell if a certain form of contraception is the right one for you? Or, what are the red flags that tell you to switch?

I encourage people to continue their contraception for 3-6 months before looking to change as it can take some time for your body to adjust. However if you are experiencing particular symptoms, like migraines or leg swelling, you should speak to a medical professional. If you are not happy with your contraception (which is often down to side effects) you should speak with an expert because they might be able to help you mitigate problems like mood changes, bad skin or bleeding.

Do you think contraception is spoken about enough? 

I think that things are moving in the right direction due to women's health becoming more prominent in the media but I still think it needs to be talked about more. I am trying to drive contraception into the digital age by using Instagram and social media to make talking about contraception cool! Contraception needs to be a key part of education from a younger age and boys and girls must learn about it.

What are three myths surrounding contraceptives these days? Can you bust them

MYTH: Hormonal contraception is the devil as it changes who you are. 
TRUTH: Hormonal contraception is one of the biggest advances in scientific history. It has allowed women to choose when to have a child, allowing them to progress in the workplace, thus narrowing the gender inequality gap. There is no evidence it can change your personality.

MYTH: Using fertility awareness methods (FAM) is a baby waiting to happen. 
TRUTH: If taught and used correctly, FAM methods (like tracking your cycle) can be up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, and for some couples, this is the best method!

MYTH: Contraception is a women's problem.
TRUTH: Contraception is everyone’s responsibility, not just the people having sex. Effective contraception contributes to solving issues like poverty, gender based violence and climate change. Contraception is the responsibility of individuals, families, healthcare providers and even governments. We need to shout out loud, more often, about contraception.

Ladies! If you need extra support for your health, our women’s health hub is always open and jam-packed full of great resources! 

Men, we’ve got you covered too! Visit the men’s health hub today.

Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.

Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 24 February 2022
Next review: 24 February 2025