Many women risk sexually transmitted diseases by relying on the morning-after pill as a regular form of contraception, a survey has found.
The poll found one in five women aged between 18 and 35 used the morning-after pill last year with the same number admitting to failing to use contraception with a new partner due to drink or drugs.
And out of 1,800 women questioned by the Co-operative Pharmacy just over 2% admitted using it three or more times, with a similar number aged between 18 and 21 saying they used it as their “regular” form of contraception.
One in six of all women admitted having a sexually transmitted infection or having had one in the past.
Figures for 2009/10 show the NHS spent about £2 million on emergency contraception - with 249,221 items dispensed.
Almost half of the women said their preferred method of contraception was the pill while two out of five favoured condoms.
Mandeep Mudhar, head of NHS development at the firm, said: “Our research shows that some women are taking unnecessary risks with their health.
“The morning-after pill should be a last resort to prevent an unwanted pregnancy after having unprotected sex, or if another method of contraception has failed, such as if you have forgotten to take one of your contraceptive pills.
“However, the emergency contraceptive pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.”
The Co-operative Pharmacy surveyed 3,000 men and women.