26/10/2010 06:57 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Contraceptive Gel Could Offer Alternative To The Pill

Contraceptive pill Contraceptive pill (Stock.xchng, tijmen)

The contraceptive pill is undoubtedly the most popular method of birth control used by women in the UK. But for some it causes a range of side effects, including weight gain, acne, headaches and mood changes. Those side effects, however, could become a thing of the past, thanks to a new form of contraceptive that's just been developed by US scientists.

A gel that contains oestrogen and a type of progesterone - the two hormones used in most types of the combined pill that stop you getting pregnant - has been tested and, so far, it's as effective as the pill (that is, 99 percent effective when used correctly). The lack of side effects is down to the use of a different form of progesterone called Nestorone, the scientists claim.

Called Nestorone Estradial gel, it's applied to your skin once a day and works just like the pill - but without those side effects. Using the gel could be incorporated into your usual beauty routine, which experts suggest may prevent many unwanted pregnancies that happen when women forget to take their pills.

Another advantage of the gel is that it can be used by women who are breastfeeding, as unlike the pill, the hormones in the gel don't get into breast milk

News of the contraceptive gel was presented at a conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver.

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