WOMEN living in two parts of Scotland are being invited to take part in trials to test the effectiveness of a new six-monthly contraceptive injection which could halve the number of times they need to see a medic each year.

Medics currently have to administer injections to women wishing to avoid pregnancy four times a year, but if the study proves a success those who use the new jab would only need to arrange an appointment twice a year.

Around 750 volunteers aged between 18 and 35 will be needed to take part in the upcoming University of Edinburgh study, which is being conducted across four countries simultaneously.

The study will see women receive an injection of depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) containing the hormone progestogen under their skin every six months.

The hormone acts to prevent pregnancy by stopping the release of eggs from the ovaries and thickening the cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to reach the womb.

Researchers say the new method of contraception could be more effective as having to inject less frequently should reduce the chances of women becoming pregnant due to missed or late medical appointments.

They say the risk of side-effects could also be reduced as the drug is absorbed more slowly when injected under the skin, instead of into the muscle as it is through the existing procedure, resulting in a gentler peak in hormone levels.

The trial, open to women in Lothian and Ayrshire, will form part of a global study building on previous research of 21 women that showed DMPA stopped all participants from ovulating for at least six months when it was administered under the skin.

Before signing up, volunteers will be examined and have their blood tested to check they can take part. All participants will have scheduled follow-up visits to assess their progress for the full 13-month study duration.

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Participants will also be required to undertake pregnancy tests each month, with a check-in phone call to follow up on results.

Professor Sharon Cameron, an NHS consultant gynaecologist and honorary professor at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “This trial of a new contraceptive method, designed to be taken twice a year rather than the current four times a year, could potentially offer meaningful benefits to many women around the world who are taking birth control.

“As it is injected under the skin instead of into a muscle, DMPA will last twice as long in the body, thereby offering a more convenient option and potentially fewer side-effects compared to the current dosage regimen.”

Women who would like to take part in the trials can register their interest by contacting the study team in Edinburgh at Chalmers.Research@ed.ac.uk, or Ayrshire at Clinical_TrialsNursesRD_XH@aapct.scot.nhs.uk.