Contraceptive gel may replace pills

Contraceptive gel may replace pills

Rubbing a bit of the clear gel into the arms, legs, shoulders and abdomen every day delivers a dose of hormones which prevent pregnancy.  Researchers say it could be an attractive alternative to the pill, that too without the common side-effects of nausea and weight gain.

It is also suitable for those who are breastfeeding, unlike the pill, which frequently interferes with milk supply due to high hormone levels caused by its consumption. The gel works in the same way as the contraceptive skin patch, reports the Telegraph.

The small beige plaster provides a steady stream of progesterone and oestrogen through the skin, which stop the ovaries releasing an egg each month.  These findings will be presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in the US.

The gel eliminates two of the biggest disadvantages of the transdermal patch - of it being visible, and the danger of it falling off.  Experts hope to bring the gel to market if clinical trial results continue to be positive.

Ruth Merkatz, director of clinical development of reproductive health at Population Council research center in New York, led the study. A group of women in their 20s to 30s were used in the trial, and it was found that over a seven-month period, none fell pregnant.

The gel also had "very high acceptability", she said. The research found the optimum dose was just 3mg a day.  The key drug in the gel is Nestorone, a new synthetic progesterone, similar to the natural hormone. It also contains a type of oestrogen that is chemically identical to that produced by a woman's body.