Researchers are now telling us that it will soon be possible to replace the contraceptive pill with a contraceptive gel that can be applied directly to the skin, and which will be quickly absorbed, offering protection against unwanted pregnancy.
The gel does much the same as the pill – it delivers a dose of hormones to the woman, and so helps her prevent a pregnancy; however without the side effects that are typically associated with the pill.
Whereas the pill has been associated with a number of side effects such as weight gain, nausea, acne and so on; the gel was seen to trigger no such side effects among the women who used it and yet was effective in preventing pregnancies for 7 months.
The study was carried out at the not-for-profit Population Council research centre in New York, by lead researcher Dr Ruth Merkatz, and colleagues.
The gel can be applied directly to the skin of the abdomen, shoulders, thighs or arms where it is absorbed by the skin without leaving behind any residue. A small quantity of the contraceptive gel; as little as 3 mg a day is required to be used once again, for effective birth control.