15/10/2004

Text messages used to remind women to take their pill

A special daily text message scheme to remind girls already using oral contraceptive to take their pill has been launched in Birmingham today.

South Birmingham Primary Care Trust’s teenage pregnancy service is aimed at girls aged 15 to women of 25 – who register for the reminder service. The PCT has invested £5,000 which will pay for daily text messages for up to 300 young women for seven pill cycles each.

It is a scheme to promote correct use of prescribed medication rather than to promote the use of contraception or to encourage sexual intercourse, the trust said.

Forgetting to take the pill is often a reason given, when asked, by teenage mothers for getting pregnant, the trust said. Many unwanted pregnancies end in termination and promoting the correct use of contraception is intended to address this problem.

Chris Spencer-Jones Director of Public Health for South Birmingham PCT said: "We hope this scheme will reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the younger age groups who have adopted texting as a way of life."

Mandy Tyler, lead for South Birmingham Primary Care Trust’s teenage pregnancy service, said: "Forgetting to take the pill is one of the many reasons why young women become pregnant, alongside other issues which impact on their health, self esteem and well-being, such as lack of appropriate information on the pill and ineffective sign posting to services available. On average a woman forgets to take her pill eight times per year.”

Young people registering for the service will be able to choose whether the message they receive is spelled out – or whether they receive it in code so that nobody else reading it would know what it meant.

(gmcg/mb)

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