The possibility of a “pericoital pill”: doubts, interests and opinions

This month (August 2013) the press has been talking about the “pericoital pill”, a pill that would be taken on-demand by women before intercourse.

It all began after a recent study confirmed that there could be a potential interest in the women’s population to take this occasional method of contraception. The research, published in the journal Contraception, has asked women in abortion and family planning clinics whether they would consider taking a contraceptive pill when wanted, right before intercourse. The study found that 69% of women surveyed in the abortion clinic and 50% of women surveyed in the family planning clinic would indeed be interested in a pericoital pill.

Other developments worth mentioning involve the efforts of other interested stakeholders. Gynuity health projects, for instance, has received a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to start researching a way to develop this new oral contraceptive. PATH has also been working with Gynuity to assess whether the on-demand oral contraceptive could be an appealing option also for women in India and Uganda. They found that, apart from general common concerns about hormone-based contraceptive methods, women in the aforementioned countries are favourable to a possible pericoital pill.

Hence, such a pill could definitely fill the found gap in the market. However, the press has been reacting negatively to the research and the latest developments. They have been reinforcing the idea that the pill takes away the responsibility that comes with having a sexual intercourse. However, researchers replied that the occasional contraceptive pill would mostly be used by women who do not have regular intercourse, as women who do would be better off taking the normal daily contraceptive rather than the pericoital pill.

As of now, we await the development of this new form of oral contraceptive for women. It would take time, effort and resources to get a product like this deployed. However, the demand is clearly there and if research finds out a way to test, manufacture and market such a pill, surely a percentage of women in the world would be pleased to have another option when it comes to deciding on taking an oral contraceptive.