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Davina McCall calls for revolution on contraception: ‘I’m really, really angry’

Davina McCall has called for a revolution on contraception after she was left “really, really f****** angry” while exploring the effects of the pill in a new documentary.

The Channel 4 documentary Davina McCall’s Pill Revolution, airing on Thursday, will show the 55-year-old presenter having her coil fitted on TV in a rare on-screen moment to help dispel misinformation around contraception.

Previously, Channel 5’s GPs: Behind Closed Doors showed the medical procedure being done in an episode in 2021.

McCall also revealed the results of a Channel 4 survey, which asked more than 4,000 women and people assigned female at birth about the effects of contraception on their mental and physical health.

It found that 77% of contraceptive pill users say they experienced side effects while taking it and 57% said they were worried about the possible effects of hormonal contraception on their mental health.

McCall also looked at what she called the “little research done into women’s health” which means the contraceptive pill has not changed much in around 60 years.

She said: “I think one of the greatest things about doing this was at the end, I was really, really f****** angry but I was also really, really full of hope because I kept meeting all these people.”

In the programme, McCall talks to Alice Pelton from The Lowdown, whose site reviews contraception, and medical professionals, such as the Government’s first ever women’s health ambassador, Dame Lesley Regan.

McCall has previously hosted programmes on the menopause for Channel 4 and her new Mirena coil was fitted to aid her hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

The presenter said she “wanted to do it to try and take the fear out” by showing her getting the procedure done.

In the show, Dame Lesley, also a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College’s St Mary’s Hospital Campus, fitted McCall’s intrauterine device (IUD).

McCall said it was “brilliantly explained” and pointed out that other women are not so lucky, calling Dame Lesley the “gold standard”.

She said: “For the first time ever, and I’ve had maybe five fitted, I didn’t have any cramping afterwards. At all.”

Dame Lesley said “many women sort of fall through the cracks” as they find barriers to access the coil on the NHS.

She added: “So sadly there are lots of women who are waiting long periods of time to receive an appointment to have a coil fitted and it’s really not necessary…

“This is not rocket science, it’s just basic maintenance and allowing you to get on with your life in a trouble-free way.”

McCall said the “tsunami of interest and questioning” has to be kept going as “change is going to happen” and “women’s health deserves to be on the national agenda”.

She also said: “With a change of government, obviously, then there’s a whole lot of new people… So we’ve just got to keep hassling, keep pushing.

“This is where we’re talking about a conversation, that has to be a revolution that keeps the momentum going.”

Aside from the effects of contraception, the show also looks at unplanned pregnancies among women over 30 being on the increase.

According to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, 45% of pregnancies in the UK country are unplanned, and one in four pregnancies lead to a termination.

McCall also met women who had used fertility awareness apps and later became pregnant, and highlighted misinformation about contraception that appears on social media.

She said: “If (pregnancy is) unplanned, and there are dramas going on, (it) doesn’t always result in an abortion, but it is difficult and it can cause chaos in a woman’s life.”

Davina McCall’s Pill Revolution premieres on Thursday at 9pm on Channel 4 and All4.