Women over the age of 25 are the most affected by upper age limits for access to free emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) from their pharmacies, according to research by a contraception think tank.

Fifty-seven of 152 (38%) councils in England confirmed that upper age limits for free EHC access were in place in 2015/16 and 2016/17, the Advisory Group on Contraception (AGC) revealed in a report published today (December 13).

Five more local authorities admitted that there was an upper age limit for free EHC in 2016/17 than in the same period the previous year, the AGC said.

Around 3.9m women of reproductive age live in an area where access to contraception is restricted by age or place of residence, according to its findings.

The Department of Health (DH) should remind local authorities that they have a responsibility to provide “open access” to contraceptive services “regardless of their age”, the AGC advised.