By MAMAMIA TEAM
Taking the pill – for most people – requires a bit of planning.
Setting a reminder on your phone. Setting a second reminder on your phone, if you’re the type of person (cough) to ignore the first reminder.
Making sure you carry the pill with you. Not forgetting to bring it with you on holidays.
And although it’s only a slight inconvenience (cue the obligatory remark: much less inconvenient than an unwanted pregnancy), researchers from New York and Sweden are arguing that that there needs to be a simpler solution.
Their answer? An after-sex pill that would only need to be taken once a month.
Researchers from US technology institute Gynuity, and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm are arguing that drug companies should develop a type of pill that would be able to disrupt pregnancy after the egg and sperm and already joined. A pill like this would be able to abort an embryo up to four weeks. According to these academics, such a pill is scientifically possible.
It would basically be a version of the morning after pill, which women wouldn’t need to remember to take the next morning. The researchers wrote in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care:
A woman could potentially use a postfertilisation method on a planned schedule only once in each menstrual cycle, no matter how many prior coital acts she had had in that cycle.
If the drug were effective when administered after implantation of an embryo, timing would be flexible, and she might even be able to limit its use on average to a few times a year when her menstrual period was late.
Importantly, post-fertilisation methods would eliminate the conceptual and logistical challenge of needing to obtain and initiate contraception before having sex, which can be daunting for both women and men.
Millions of women around the world currently take some kind of oral contraceptive that uses hormones to stop the release an egg for fertilisation. But these extra hormones can have various side effects; everything from worsened skin and weight gain, to headaches and nausea.
For some, depending on other medications and family history of such conditions, the pill can increase the risk of blood clots and breast cancer. The pill and other existing hormonal contraceptives may also, in the long term, affect the lining of the womb – which reduces the chances of fertilised eggs implanting successfully in the future.
The academics involved in the proposal believe that the month-after pill would be popular because it wouldn’t carry these dangers and side effects, as well as being more convenient. They also argue that women wouldn’t even need to take the pill every month. It would depend upon how much sex a woman was having, and if she missed a period.
In theory, a woman would only need to take the pill if her period was late.
But the suggestion that a month-after pill should be developed has, unsurprisingly, been condemned by some. The line from campaigners who are pushing back against such a development is that this would be a ‘back door abortion’.