Had Unprotected Sex And Worried You Might Be Pregnant? Get Help From NHS Direct’s New Online Contraception Checker, UK

February 12, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

You’ve had unprotected sex, or are worried that your contraception has failed you … what do you do next? There is now a new online contraception advice option available to all women!

NHS Direct has recently launched an online Contraception Checker (http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) to help take the agony out of what to do next. It is designed to deal with enquiries about emergency contraception, missed contraceptive pills, dislodged contraceptive devices, interactions with other medicines or failed contraceptives.

The new tool takes the protocols – used by NHS Direct call centre nurses to assess patients’ concerns over the telephone – and adapted them for the website.

A series of questions are asked and the advice given naturally depends on the information given.¹ At all times the user remains anonymous which enables NHS Direct to reach those who may be less comfortable using the telephone or talking face to face.

Depending on the data provided by the user, the system may suggest a number of options including: a conversation with a nurse advisor; a visit to the family planning service or GP to get a prescription for a contraceptive pill or a visit to the nearest pharmacy to buy over the counter emergency contraception.

An anonymous web chat service is also offered if further assessment is advised. Web chat advisors are available 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Anne Joshua, associate director of pharmacy at NHS Direct says: “Sexual health is one of the major public health challenges and unplanned pregnancy is the most problematic². The Contraception Checker is ideal for anyone in urgent need of information about what to do if they have had unprotected sex but who also wishes to remain anonymous. The user is advised about the next steps to take according to the tried and tested protocols NHS Direct has developed to support telephone calls. In some cases users may be advised to seek professional advice about taking the emergency hormonal contraceptive pill.

“The emergency hormonal contraceptive pill is most effective within 24 hours of sex and is recommended for use up to 72 hours after sex – the self assessment tool caters for this urgency. Emergency hormonal contraception however is not a replacement for regular contraception and it is important that women of child-bearing age seek professional advice to ensure they have the best form of contraception for them.”

To help users experience a seamless ‘journey’ NHS Direct is planning to introduce a call back from NHS Direct with the facility to arrange a specific call back from a nurse advisor at a time to suit. This is already in operation for the cold and flu Symptom Checker launched in December 08.

Useful facts

Medicine information enquiries are one of the top three reasons people phone the service and emergency contraception makes up the largest percentage of those calls.

So far there have been 34,700 unique visits to the new online Contraception Checker and of those 409 engaged in anonymous web chats – 3% of those were from men.


– ¹The advice given is only suitable if you are aged 13 or over. If you are under the age of 13 or if this enquiry is for someone under the age of 13, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

– ² Bailey JV et al. Interactive computer-based interventions for sexual health promotion (Protocol). 1-12.2007

– Emergency hormonal contraception is not intended to be used as a regular form of contraception. One dose of the Emergency Hormonal Contraceptive pill (Levonorgestrel 1500 micrograms, Levonelle®) doesn’t protect you against pregnancy during the rest of a menstrual cycle if you continue to have uprotected sex.

– Taking a dose of the emergency contraceptive pill does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections. A condom does.

– NHS Direct handles over 22,000 calls a day. That’s over 8 million calls a year.

– The NHS Direct Online website (http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) receives around 21 million visits a year.

– NHS Direct Interactive is available to around 18.9 million households with either Sky Digital TV or Freeview, 85% of all TV homes.

– NHS Direct employs over 3,000 staff, over 1,200 of whom are trained nurses.

– NHS Direct receives approximately £139 million funding annually from the Department of Health to run the 0845 4647 telephone service, the website and digital TV services.

The NHS Direct

[Via http://www.medicalnewstoday.com]


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