A US expert has said contraceptive pills fail as few women take them correctly and hence it is better for them to opt for IUDs. One in 12 women taking the Pill get pregnant each year because they miss so many tablets, Prof James Trussell, of Princeton University in America has warned.
Women should instead use longer-lasting methods such as the implant or intra-uterine device (IUD) which can be fitted and forgotten, he said.
AdvertisementSpeaking at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service conference in London, he said, "The Pill is an outdated method because it does not work well enough. It is very difficult for ordinary women to take a pill every single day. The beauty of the implant or the IUD is that you can forget about them."
He said studies have shown women miss three times as many pills as they say they do. Computerised pill packs have revealed that where as about half of women say they did not miss any pills, less than a third actually did. And where as between 10 per cent and 14 per cent admitted missing more than three pills in a month, actually between 30 per cent and 50 per cent missed that many.
Besides few GPs offer long acting reversible contraceptives or are trained at fitting them, so most women end up using the Pill by default.
Also sexual health clinics where the methods are available are being closed down, either because of financial deficits in the NHS or just because it is a low priority, Prof Trussell said.
The Government wants to encourage more women to use long acting methods and guidance has suggested that if seven per cent of women currently using the Pill switched to a long acting method, then it would prevent 73,000 unintended pregnancies, saving the NHS £100m a year.
Prof Trussell said increasing access to the emergency contraception would not reduce unintended pregnancies and the resulting abortions, despite a massive Government drive to provide it free to young girls.
It is 'unrealistic' to expect women to take the emergency contraceptive every time they have unprotected sex, Prof Trussell said.
"It is not reduced unintended pregnancies in America or anywhere else that has introduced it. There is so much unprotected sex you would have to use so much emergency contraception to make a dent," he said.
"It is not a magic bullet. If you want to seriously reduce unintended pregnancies in the UK you can only do with implants and IUDs."
Half of all pregnancies in America are unintended and half of those happen because contraception failed or was not taken properly, the rest were not using any contraception.
Abortion figures released last week showing there were 205,598 terminations in England and Wales in 2007 and in a third of cases the woman had previously had one or more abortions.
Ministers are 'insulting the intelligence' of British women by refusing to allow them to take medication to induce an abortion at home, experts said.
Current laws mean women seeking early abortions using drugs instead of surgery have to make two visits to an abortion clinic to take the two separate doses of medication.
Elsewhere in the world, including American and most of Europe, women take the first dose in the clinic and are given the second dose to take away and take at home 48 hours later.
"It implies British women are more stupid than the rest of the world," Prof Mitchell Creinin, of the University of Pittsburgh said at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service conference in London.
An amendment is expected to be tabled next month to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to allow women to be prescribed the drugs in a licensed premises but for them to be administered elsewhere.
The rule was first introduced when abortion could only be carried out surgically to prevent back street abortions.