This new 'on-demand' contraceptive could be the end of the pill as we know it

Scientists have developed a new ‘on-demand’ contraceptive pill that a person can take right before sex.

Scientists from Stanford University in California have tested a birth control pill that a person can take right before penetrative sex in a small study.

An new on-demand contraceptive pill

According to preliminary research published in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, a pill that combines existing medications is a 'promising candidate' for a new on-demand contraceptive pill.

Combining the morning after pill and an inflammatory medication used to treat long term conditions like arthritis, the new pill has the potential to prevent pregnancy when a person takes it right before sex.

The anti-inflammatory drug was found to disrupt ovulation even in the days just prior to ovulation, during the 'luteal surge,' unlike current emergency contraceptive pills.

The researchers wanted to focus on the period of the 'luteal surge' as this is when it is most difficult to disrupt ovulation and also when fertilisation of the egg is most likely to occur, resulting in pregnancy.

The study involved nine women between the ages of 18 and 35, who were considered healthy with normal menstrual cycles. Six of the nine women who took the new pill experienced ovulation disruption, while eight women met the criteria for incomplete ovulation.

Is this new 'on-demand' contraceptive the end of the pill as we know it? Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition / Unsplash

A welcome alternative to the current contraceptive pill

While the study was small and more research is needed, these results show that the new pill seems to be highly effective at disrupting ovulation at peak fertility.

The results are promising as they show this new pill can disrupt ovulation when conception risk is highest. This means it is 'a promising candidate for evaluation as a pericoital oral contraceptive.' What’s more, it disrupted ovulation 'more than any other medication previously studied.'

This is welcome news to people who take the current contraceptive pill which involves a whole host of side effects such as mood swings, nausea, headaches, and slightly increases the risk of blood clots and cervical cancer.

The current contraceptive pill also has to be taken daily for at least three weeks per month to be effective, with condoms and diaphragms the only on-demand contraception currently available.

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