Women will soon have several new birth control options. The Today Sponge, developed by Allendale Pharmaceuticals, will be returning to the market. Lunelle, a monthly injection of the hormones found in the oral pills, could possibly be on the market by the end of 1999.
Another form of contraception being tested is a contraceptive ring that slowly releases hormones. It is inserted vaginally and then removed and discarded after a period of three weeks to allow for menstruation to occur. A seven-year IUD is being developed by Berlex Laboratories to help prevent uterine fibroids and cramps.
Other future contraceptive may include a hormone patch, a disposable diaphragm, an improved Norplant, and an oral pill taken daily that eliminates cramps and menstruation.
Family planning experts note that in the United States alone, there are more than 6.3 million unplanned pregnancies annually, and that the last new form of birth control (the female condom) was put on the market in 1993.