A new class of pill, the Viagra pill has been approved for sale in the US.
The pill has a pill-sized cap that contains an electrical current that delivers a dose of a hormone called progesterone, and can be used to stop ovulation, birth control or reduce menstrual cramps.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug on Friday.
The FDA has yet to announce a timeline for approval.
The new pill is the first drug approved by the FDA to target the same hormone, called levonorgestrel-releasing hormone (LNGR), which is linked to miscarriage and ovarian cancer.
Viagra is a prescription drug that can be bought in pill, tablet or cream form.
It is prescribed for treating erectile dysfunction, irregular bleeding and erectile problems such as painful intercourse.
Vitamin D and calcium pills have also been approved by FDA for use in the treatment of osteoporosis and osteopenia, but both drugs have not yet been approved as birth control pills.
Dr Anjali Sharma, director of the Women’s Health Program at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the FDA decision was an important step in the fight to protect women’s access to birth control.
“Vitamin E is a powerful ingredient that protects against cancer, heart disease and other conditions, and it is also used to treat heart failure and diabetes,” she said.
“A pill that is effective against cervical cancer, for example, is a critical component of the Pill Plan, a public health strategy that aims to prevent women from getting cervical cancer and cervical cancer treatments that may not be effective.”
Dr Sharma added that the FDA has been working closely with pharmaceutical companies to make sure the pill has the same benefits as other birth control products, and that it would not be possible to use the new pill without the FDA approval.
A new pill from the US Food & Drug Administration.
(AP: David Goldman)The pill is a combination of estrogen and progesteronin, a hormone that can make women fertile and produce babies, the FDA said in a statement.
The agency said the pills were tested in rats, monkeys and mice and showed “robust efficacy” in preventing ovulation and menstrual cramp, and the pill was safe and effective in preventing the onset of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) called gonorrhoea.
Dr Sharma said the agency was working closely together with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that the pill would not have the side effects of other birth-control pills, including hormonal contraceptives.
“These new pill candidates do not have any known side effects and are not associated with any of the potential side effects that have been reported,” she added.
LNGRR, a type of estrogen hormone, is linked with the development of cervical cancer.
The US is one of only a handful of countries that still has no official way of tracking the number of cervical cancers, and Dr Sharma said it was important that women could use a pill to prevent cervical cancer even if they had been diagnosed.
There are currently no plans to track the numbers of new cases, and some doctors are worried about the new medication being sold to women who have never been diagnosed with cervical cancer in the first place.
“If you get pregnant, there are so many other problems you can have,” Dr Sharma told the ABC.
But the drug company said it hoped to begin sales of the pill in 2019.
This article has been updated to reflect that Dr Sharma is the director of Women’s Heart Program at Harvard School.