Today, we celebrate World Contraception Day (WCD) and recognise the significance of contraceptive medicine, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their reproductive well-being. This day serves as a reminder of the importance of safe, easily accessible, and effective contraception, contributing to improved health and life satisfaction.

The theme this year, 'The Power of Choice', underscores the significance of having a range of effective and safe contraceptive options. Smartway Sexual Health Supply provides over 500 pharmaceuticals and medical devices within the sexual health arena. From contraceptive pills and implants, to both non-hormonal copper IUDs such as T-Safe 380, and hormonal ones like Mirena, we are a trusted supplies of over 50 types of contraceptive medicine.

With over three decades of experience, we understand the significance of medical research and the development of innovative approaches to treatment, all aimed at enhancing global health. We also recognise that a successful healthcare system extends beyond these efforts, and it can only fulfil its true purpose when patients access the medicines they need. It’s why we make our own investments in innovation in this sector, working closely with manufacturers, innovators and suppliers.

This WCD, we spotlight the primary categories of contraceptive methods currently accessible in the UK. We will also recognise the effort of our teams in sourcing unlicensed contraceptive medicines and addressing medication shortages in all therapeutic areas, not just sexual health. This includes by using our regulatory approvals to import unlicensed medicines.

Enabling Access to a Range of Contraceptive Medicines

In the UK, diverse contraceptive options cater to individual preferences and needs, empowering informed choices that align with unique circumstances. From hormonal methods that have evolved significantly to non-hormonal alternatives, emergency contraception, and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), the main types of contraceptive medicines currently available in the UK are the following:

  • Hormonal Methods: Hormonal contraception options have evolved significantly in the past decade. In addition to traditional birth control pills, patches, injections, and implants have become available. Recent innovations have resulted in lower-dose formulations and the introduction of long-acting options like hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs). These methods work by altering hormone levels to prevent pregnancy. They provide effective and convenient choices for those seeking hormonal contraception. 
  • Non-Hormonal Methods: Copper IUDs offer an effective alternative for those looking to avoid hormones. Additionally, fertility awareness methods have gained popularity, allowing individuals to track their menstrual cycles and identify fertile days for natural family planning. These non-hormonal methods provide a hormone-free option for contraception. Copper IUDs work by creating an environment that is not conducive to fertilisation, while fertility awareness methods rely on monitoring and timing.  
  • Emergency Contraception: When unexpected situations arise, there are now convenient options for emergency contraception. Over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills and copper IUDs for post-coital contraception offer a timely and reliable way to prevent unintended pregnancies. Emergency contraceptive pills are most effective when taken as soon as possible, and copper IUDs can be inserted up to five days after unprotected intercourse. 
  • Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC): LARC methods, including IUDs and hormonal implants, have become increasingly popular due to their high effectiveness and long-lasting nature. These options provide extended contraceptive protection, reducing the need for frequent intervention. Hormonal implants can last up to three years, and IUDs can provide protection for up to 10 years, depending on the type.

Over the decades, our teams have cultivated an extensive procurement network, ensuring access to a wide array of pharmaceutical and medical supplies on a global scale. We work closely with manufacturers and biotechs, as well as innovators, to bring new products and medicines to market. These relationships enable us to deliver a variety of contraceptive medicines.

We supply contraceptive medicines to healthcare providers such as the National Health Service (NHS), non-profit organisations including one of the largest in the UK for providing contraceptive methods, and healthcare professionals across the UK and worldwide. By enabling healthcare providers to access a variety of contraceptive methods, patients can access the medicine that best suits their needs.

Supplying a comprehensive range of contraceptive medicines is an integral part of supporting healthcare providers in offering the best care to their patients. Providing access to diverse contraceptive options empowers individuals to safeguard their reproductive health, contributing positively to their overall well-being and health. - Kim Wallace, Business Development Manager – North Sexual Health & Unlicensed Medicines

Our role as a supplier of medicines that are in short supply

Our commitment to helping patients access contraceptive medicines that are in shortage is continuous. In the last six months, during the T-Safe QL shortage in the UK, we were the only supplier that could provide essential support to over 30 different NHS trusts. Our teams' commitment ensured the uninterrupted flow of regular supply chains while seamlessly transitioning to alternative methods and solutions.

With partnerships and investments in manufacturing and sourcing, our expertise allowed us to swiftly identify new products and cost-effective alternatives, further reinforcing our unique ability to overcoming medicine shortages and delivering vital solutions to healthcare providers and their patients.

We respond to shortages everyday, including when a concerned family member contacted us because her daughter was experiencing severe pain and urgently required a medicine in short supply and having been turned away. After sourcing an effective alternative and working closely with their pharmacy, our sexual health and procurement teams dispensed the medicine to hundreds of patients in a similar position. It’s what we do.

Supporting patients means stepping up when they need us most. I'm very proud of our team's dedication to delivering contraceptive medicines during shortages. It's our mission to be the reliable bridge between patients and the healthcare they require. - Giles Holford, Head of Sexual Health Supply

As a provider of pharmaceutical and medical supplies, we are on a mission to empower patients to access cutting-edge medicines. Our aim has remained the same since our first enquiry: to bridge the gap between patients and the healthcare they need, ensuring that innovative methods, including contraceptive methods, are readily available for those who seek them.

To find out more about Smartway Sexual Health and the extensive range of the sexual health products that we supply, please click below.

Sexual Health Supply