The idea of a gel contraceptive applied to the body is an interesting one, and certainly if you want to avoid the Pill seems at first glance like a good idea. However, it falls yet again into the trap on confusing a synthetic chemical progestin and natural progesterone.
Nestorone I read in one newspaper is a ‘new kind of progesterone’ – well actually, no it isn’t. It is yet another synthetic version that carries all the problems of other synthetic hormones and not the benefits of the real thing.
Antares Pharma, the company developing it are in phase II of their trials and hope to have it on the market within 5 years. Given the increasing suspicion with which oral hormone treatment like HRT and the Pill have been getting it is quite understandable that they wish to devlop an alternative, but whether this body gel is it remains to be seen.
Research by the Family Planning Association shows that there are approximately two million women using a contraceptive method that they are unhappy with, though whether rubbing a little of Nestorone, the gel, on the body on a regular basis can avoid pregnancy remains to be seen. It is said to work by producing a set of the progesterone and oestrogen hormones, which act as a barrier to ovaries releasing an egg each month
Antares Pharma claim that the gel is free of all associated side-effects like weight gain, acne, dizziness but as it still contains a synthetic progestin I am waiting to see how this would work. One group for whom it may be an advantage are women who are breastfeeding as oral contraceptives cannot be used during that period as they pass into the milk, but the gel could be used without this happening.
It appeared to be effective in this small study as they claim none of the women using the gel became pregnant – however, and it is a big however – this was an extremely small study of only 18 women – and some of those on the study were asked to continue with their regular contraception so I don’t think it a realistic number to draw positive conclusions from at this stage.