Half of women would consider taking a once-a-month contraceptive pill, according to a new survey, but “out-dated” abortion laws are holding back development of new kinds of drug, pregnancy experts have said.
Although not yet available, a monthly pill is scientifically possible, doctors believe.
A survey carried out by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas [lower case]) has found that 48 per cent of women would consider replacing their current method of contraception with such a pill.
The survey of more than 1,000 women aged between 16 and 45, all of whom were sexually active, found that a quarter would not consider such a pill, while another quarter were unsure.
However, because a once-a-month pill - which could also be used even more rarely, only after a missed period -would work by detaching any fertilised egg from the womb lining, it would be classified as an abortifacient – a substance that induces abortion – and would be illegal for women to use under existing abortion laws.
Bpas said that the law, which classes any contraceptive method that works after an egg is implanted as an abortion, and which dates back to the 1860s, was “out of step” with modern times.
“There has been little innovation in contraception and many women struggle to find a method that suits them,” said bpas chief executive Ann Furedi. “Many women don't like taking daily pills, or find the side-effects of some of the long acting methods like the coil intolerable. Women need new ways to plan their families that fit in with their lives in the 21st Century.”
“The fact that so many women would be interested in a pill that works post-implantation is important,” she added. “We should be finding new ways to help women control their fertility in the way that works best for them, and consigning laws which restrict women’s reproductive choice to the history books where they belong.”
Many women suffer significant side-effects from existing contraceptive methods, including persistent bleeding and cramping.