Doctors are warning a shortage of contraception on the NHS is affecting the “physical and mental wellbeing of women”.
The issue first arose last year when pharma giant Pfizer reported supply problems with its injectable contraceptive Sayana Press, which protects against pregnancy for three months.
Shortages of daily pills have since come to light, with the brands Noriday, Norimin and Synphse all in short supply, the BBC reported.
The cause of the shortages is unclear.
It may soon be resolved, however, with a key ingredient reportedly being manufactured.
In the meantime, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Menopause Society, and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) teamed up to write to ministers over the issue.
They state women are becoming distressed looking for alternative contraception that may not suit them, with some forgoing the medication altogether.
In a letter to officials, they wrote how the shortage is affecting the “physical and mental wellbeing of girls and women”, putting them at risk of “unplanned pregnancies and abortions”.
One who knows the distress of being without contraception all too well is Nikki Heresford.
The mother, 34, relied on Sayana Press to control her periods.
The drug is the only self-injectable contraceptive on the market, with many women using it to regulate heavy bleeding.
Heresford was “upset” when her supply ran out towards the end of last year.
Unable to administer the medication herself, she attended a last-minute appointment with her GP, who injected the drug.
Requiring a “top up” this week, Heresford was reportedly told there is a five-week wait, forcing her to “drag her five-year-old” out of bed to an evening clinic at a community health centre.
She is thought to be one of more than 500,000 women who use long-acting contraception, like the “coil” or implant.
Three million women are said to take the pill every day.
“We are aware that women are sent away with prescriptions for unavailable products and end up lost in a system,” Dr Asha Kasliwal, from the FSRH, told the BBC.
“This is causing utter chaos.”
The issue follows a similar shortage of hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women last year.
Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, added: “We know some women have been struggling to access their preferred pill, and others have also experienced issues obtaining the contraceptive injection.
“It can take women a long time to find a pill that suits them and they may find it hard to tolerate the side effects they report on the others, including abdominal pain, headaches and irregular bleeding.
“We echo calls for an investigation into the shortages”.