I stand against the ignorance and acceptance that we should have to put up with this bullshit. Why are we still making this so much worse for women?Alice Pelton, founder – The Lowdown
Shining a light on the fact that millions of women globally are effectively playing Russian roulette with their health, while taking various forms of contraception.
Research has emerged that almost a third of women in the UK could be taking a pill incompatible with their body. The study, conducted by online doctor and medical provider service Zava and research agency Intrinsic Insight, found that as many as 3.3 million women in the UK have experienced regular side effects and symptoms; repercussions which occur when a pill is not well-suited for your body.
According to the NHS, unwanted side effects can include migraines, weight changes, irregular bleeding, acne, stomach problems, mental health issues, and a loss of sex drive.
So, here at Be More Girl, we want to find out what’s really going on. Is the lack of funding the issue, or is it really down to the patriarchal way our world works – or are those one and the same thing? And, most importantly of all, what can be done to encourage and enable change?
The Lowdown is the world’s first review platform for contraception and we spoke with the founder, Alice Pelton, about why women need a new and empowering way of making choices.
Tell me a little about the experiences you’ve had, and how they’re shaping the work you do now?
“I had lots of problems with my contraception, from the age of 16 when I went on the pill, and I went through a kind of contraceptive merry-go-round for about 10-years going between GPs and sexual health clinics, trying lots of different types of pills, having lots of side effects, feeling very frustrated and ignored.”
We’ve seen cuts in sexual health in the UK in the last decade, and thanks to the pandemic and what’s happening to our economy, this is only going to get worse. Councils are now responsible for where they spend money; funding for sexual health has to compete with things like roadworks and housing, so it’s always getting de-prioritised.Alice Pelton, founder – The Lowdown
“80% of contraception is via GPs, and they aren’t always the best people to help. You know, is it really the right thing that we have these 10-minute conversations with doctors, and walk away with a leaflet? Not only do they often have limited training in this area, but limited budgets. And, the accompanying time constraints, mean they’re between a rock and a hard place. Sometimes it can be more beneficial to speak to a sexual health nurse.
So, there’s loads of problems around choice, and problems with care…confusion, stigma.
I realised that there was a massive gap for a brand and a platform in this space. I had the idea – I started working on it in 2018 (I was about 27) – and, I launched The Lowdown the following year.
I’m determined to provide better information and real world advice for those that need it, so women don’t have to go through what I went through.”
What is the founding spirit of The Lowdown; what do you stand against, what’s your vision?
“That as women, we just have to accept a reduced quality of life due to side effects. We have to take mornings off work to deal with this. We have to feel crap and stressed, or pay for this stuff.
I just cannot believe that we’re in a society where most of that burden falls on women. And, you know, after 60 years of the pill, we’re still not that much closer to committing men to it.
I think a lot of the ignorance of side effects and problems gets swept into that category of women just being hysterical and making a fuss. I hate that.
Our mission is to change the way that women choose, access and use their contraception. I want The Lowdown to become a global platform that helps women all around the world, and builds a community to help women navigate this minefield together.”
“Not just useful data; rewarding connections with other people, and quick, easy access to the contraceptives that are right for them.”
I think there’s a lot of analogies with choosing a fantasy football team and choosing your contraception.Alice Pelton, founder – The Lowdown
“I guess it’s been shaped by my media content background, personal experience, and also a lot of the work that I’ve done has been developing websites and apps and gaming. So, I sort of took what I learned in those areas and applied them to contraception – which is quite a strange transition.”
Would you say that The Lowdown community is giving women a voice?
“You need to get women who want to talk to each other, you know? ‘Have you been on this pill? What was it like?’ In collecting the data, you’re bringing all those experiences together in one place – a collective voice.
I spend my whole time raising awareness, speaking to people, banging the drum, pushing pharma, pushing anyone that’ll listen, to take notice of this. And it seems to have captured something; women agree things need to change – it’s kind of like a movement.
There are millions of women out there who want to figure it out for themselves; they’re much more empowered – especially in the UK. This new wave of women, who starting in their 20’s, are demanding more; better healthcare advice and solutions. The Lowdown is here for those women.”
I always say, listen to yourself. You know your body better than anyone. Fight your corner.Alice Pelton, founder – The Lowdown
The Lowdown is on a mission to change the way that women choose, access and use contraception. They do this by providing a platform for reviews and community, access to advice through private appointments with women’s health doctors, as well as providing a quick and easy way to order contraception. The information they offer covers everything from the various pills to the withdrawal method, and all the content is reviewed by their clinical team.