Greater availability of the morning-after pill increases rates of sexually transmitted diseases, according to a new study in the US.
According to the research, over-the-counter access to the morning-after pill increases rates of sexually transmitted infections by twelve per cent for 15 to 44-year-old women and nine per cent for teenagers.
The morning-after pill can cause an early-stage abortion.
Dr Karen Mulligan, from Middle Tennessee State University, led the study analysing the impact of providing the morning-after pill over the counter without prescription on risky sexual behaviour and abortions.
She looked at the issue on a state level, and found that her results supported those of a national longitudinal survey.
Dr Mulligan found that making the morning-after pill more widely available resulted in individuals being more likely to have sex, having a higher number of sexual encounters and being less likely to use condoms.
The morning-after pill was made available over the counter without prescription across the US in 2012.
In response to the study, Dr David Paton, from Nottingham University Business School, called on the UK Government to review its policy of promoting the morning-after pill to young people.
He said it is “very interesting” to see “further confirmation” that access to the morning-after pill does not reduce abortions and leads to higher rates of sexually transmitted infections.
He added that the paper is consistent with evidence from the UK.
Dr Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship, also welcomed the findings.
He said: “Now there is growing evidence showing that not only are such schemes failing to do any good, but they may in fact be doing harm.
“Making the emergency contraceptive pill available over the counter free, without prescription, is sadly an ill-conceived knee-jerk response to Britain’s spiralling epidemic of unplanned pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted disease amongst teenagers. It is also not evidence-based.
“The best way to counter the epidemic of unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease is to promote real behaviour change.
“The government would be well advised to enter into dialogue with leaders of communities in Britain where rates of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy are low, especially Christian faith communities, to learn about what actually works”, he concluded.