Now, morning-after pill that can be taken 5 days later
Learn all about this newest breakthrough in contraceptives.
Women can now buy a morning-after pill that works for up to five days after having unprotected sex -- without even having to see a general practitioner (GP).
Any woman aged 18 or more will for the first time be able to buy the powerful medication called EllaOne from certain branches of the UK's Co-operative Pharmacy.
But campaigners say that since it can be taken so long after conception it is an early form of abortion.
There are also concerns that it will encourage unprotected sex as women will see it as a 'safety net', thereby leading to higher rates of promiscuity and sexually transmitted infections.
EllaOne can be taken longer after sex than the conventional morning-after pill, which works for three days, and is up to twice as effective at preventing pregnancies.
Until now it has only been possible to get EllaOne with a prescription from a GP or from an obscure London-based website which also sells Viagra and weight-loss drugs but now it will be on sale for 30 pounds in some 40 Co-op branches in southern England and Wales in areas with high rates of unwanted pregnancies.
Photographs: Alejandra Mavroski, Santiago, Chile/Flickr
How it works
EllaOne works by thickening the entrance of the womb, preventing sperm from entering and swimming up to fertilise the egg if taken on the first day or so after sex.
In addition, it changes the womb's lining, meaning that if the pill is taken up to five days after sex, a fertilised egg cannot implant itself and develop into a foetus.
But Norman Wells, director of the charity Family Education Trust, described it as an early method of abortion, and said there was no evidence that these sorts of pills reduced unwanted pregnancies.
"Instead, young people in particular have been lulled into a false sense of security, taken a more casual attitude to sex, and become exposed to an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
Women wanting EllaOne will be questioned by a pharmacist to check their age, and that they aren't already pregnant or on any medication which could cause complications.
If pharmacists think someone is under 18 and they cannot provide ID to prove otherwise they will be refused the pill, as it has not been properly tested in younger women.
Side-effects of the pill include nausea, vomiting, headaches, mood swings and back pain, similar to the conventional morning-after pill.
Photographs: Anka Grzywacz/Wikimedia Commons