Some contraceptive pills could soon be sold in chemists without a prescription, the government has said.
It is asking women to share their views on whether two progestogen-only pills – Lovima 75 microgram tablets and Hana 75 microgram tablets – should be available to buy over the counter.
Both pills contain one type of female sex hormone – the progestogen desogestrel – and are sometimes referred to as "the mini pill".
Combined pills, which include two types of female sex hormone – progestogerone and oestrogen – are not included in the new proposals.
Still, this is the first time that the government has proposed making any contraceptive pill available without a prescription.
If the two pills in question are "reclassified" in this way, women would have greater choice on how to access them. They could buy them over-the-counter from a pharmacist, or continue to be prescribed them by a doctor.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is leading the government's public consultation on whether the two pills should be reclassified.
Dr Sarah Branch of the MHRA said: "Every response received will help us gain a better picture of whether people think the contraceptive pill with desogestrel should be available over the counter.
"We hope to hear from as many people and women’s groups as possible," she added.
The move to make the pill more readily available has been welcomed by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), which tweeted: "Whether it is the contraceptive pill or early abortion medication, reproductive healthcare should be placed in women's hands wherever possible, with no clinically unnecessary barriers or restrictions."
However, the service's chief executive Clare Murphy pointed out that the price point of the over-the-counter pills will be "key".
"Emergency contraception in many pharmacies is still hugely over-priced," she added. "Let’s not make the same mistake with this pill too."