U.S. women still have limited contraceptive options and rely mostly on sterilization, condoms, and birth control pills, but new birth-control options are on the way.
Dr. Michael Burnhill of Planned Parenthood said that the “long, long drought” of birth-control options for U.S. women may be over soon, since several new contraceptives are now “in the pipeline.”
As reported in the March 11 edition of the Feminist News, the Today contraceptive sponge is expected to return to the U.S. market later this year. Unipath’s hand-held computer predicts a woman’s risk of pregnancy and is currently undergoing clinical trials. A similar device created by the same company to help women achieve pregnancy is already available.
New smaller and safer intrauterine devices (IUDs) such as the Mirena and the Flexi-T are already sold in Europe and provide long-term protection from pregnancy. The Mirena works for five years and has been credited by decreasing menstrual blood loss, reducing potentially-deadly ectopic pregnancies and uterine cancer, and with shrinking fibroid tumors. The Flexi-T is smaller than other IUDs and is less likely to cause cramps or bleeding. Makers of the Flexi-T are currently recruiting U.S. women who would like to participate in tests of the new device.
The Population Council is currently testing a hormone-secreting vaginal ring that would provide birth control for one year and is seeking approval for Implanon, an implanted contraceptive sold to Europeans by the Netherlands-based Organon Inc. The Council is also attempting to create an implant that would suppress men’s bodies from producing sperm.