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Book review: 'The Pill and other forms of hormonal contraception'

This little book may be aimed at patients, but it is written by leaders in the field and provides plently of useful information for healthcare professionals too

This little book may be aimed at patients, but it is written by leaders in the field and provides plently of useful information for healthcare professionals too

This book is a no-nonsense, straightforward guide to the oral contraceptive pill.

Although the book is entitled ‘The Pill and other forms of hormonal contraception', the focus is really on oral contraception.

The book is intended for the contraceptive user; the first paragraph states: ‘we've written this book to guide you through all the ins and outs of taking the pill'.

It does not appear to be a medical reference guide, although it would still be useful as an at-a-glance read for health care professionals.

It is divided up into four parts: your choice of contraception, keeping it safe, taking the Pill and other types of pill.

Each part guides the reader through issues such as the advantages and disadvantages of the pill, how to take the Pill, emergency contraception and other types of pill such as the progestogen-only brands.

There is an interesting chapter at the end of the book about new research into the male pill.

The chapter highlights the complex scientific challenges faced in producing such a pill (it is difficult to interfere with 1000-2000 sperm being produced per second), when compared with female contraception, where the process of stopping an egg being released every month is far simpler.

The book is written by Professor John Guillebaud, emeritus professor at UCH, well-known author of numerous family planning textbooks and a leading expert in reproductive medicine.

His co-author is Dr Anne MacGregor, who works in sexual and reproductive care at London's St Bartholomew's Hospital.

There is no denying that the book is written by experts in their field.

While Guillebaud's previous books were written more with the medical profession in mind, this appeals to a broader audience, and could be easily recommended to a non-medical person.

One of the advantages of this book is that it is a concise and easy read.

The simple diagrams and tables which annotate it are a useful way of highlighting the important sections.

Part of the book is written in a question and answer style - for example, answers to commonly asked questions about the contraceptive pill, such as: ‘Is it safe to have sex during the seven-day break?', and ‘I am going into hospital for an operation - should I stop the Pill?'

There are short, to the point answers which follow these questions. An additional bonus to the book is that there is a useful appendix at the end which lists 15 top tips for pill takers.

While the layout of the book is easy to read, some of the important charts and tables seem to get slightly lost amidst the text.

One example of this is the pill ladder table which is tucked away in chapter 16.

This may have been more useful to have at the end of the book, perhaps as an additional appendix, so that it would stand out from the text and be more easily accessible.

I would highly recommend this book to all pill takers, and also as a quick and easy read for healthcare professionals dealing with contraception and family planning.

Dr Tahmeena Farid

Rating: 4/5

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