Political opposition preventing development of sex contraceptive pill
Researchers have warned that political opposition is the main barrier in developing post sex contraception for women.
Research published in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care has found that a contraceptive pill used after sex would be welcomed by many women.
Currently, emergency contraceptive pills can be used within 72 hours of sex, but post fertilisation contraception could be used after a longer period than just three days.
This form of contraception could potentially be taken just once in the monthly menstrual cycle, regardless of how many times a woman had sex before taking it.
The post fertilisation method would eliminate the logistical challenge of obtaining contraception before having sex, which can often be daunting for both men and women.
Currently, it is unclear whether available drugs would work effectively in this way, and US and Swedish specialists in reproductive health conclude that more research is required.
Given the rapid improvements made in the understanding of reproductive physiology, is it likely that the development of such a drug would ultimately be successful. Although multidisciplinary research may be needed to help define the best options, promising compounds and the necessary pharmaceutical knowledge do exist.
The greatest challenge to developing these contraceptives, however, will be political opposition. In the UK and the US, governments define the start of pregnancy as the implantation of the fertilised egg, and interruption afterwards is classified as abortion under current laws.
Although abortion is now legal in many countries around the world, effective legislative reform is still required to ensure the reproductive health of women.
Evidence from surveys suggests that, on the whole, women back the idea of post fertilisation contraception. All that is lacking is the funding to kick start research in this developing area of reproductive health care.
In order to meet the challenge of an increasingly complicated world, women deserve all possible options for controlling and preserving their reproductive health, the report concluded.
In an accompanying podcast, lead author of the report Elizabeth Raymond acknowledges the need to win over policy makers. She also said that specialists working in family planning have their part to play in the development of this new type of contraception.
She said, “We need to stop extolling pre-fertilisation contraception as a good thing, because it implies that something that works after fertilisation is bad. We have to stop doing that.
“[Post-fertilisation] contraception doesn’t have to be acceptable to every woman", she adds. "No method is acceptable to every woman now.”