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Future Contraceptive Methods

The high cost in time and money of developing new contraceptive methods in the United States creates a barrier to the creation of new methods. In the early 1990s, a new contraceptive device could take as long as 17 years and up to $70 million to develop. Yet new methods of contraception are being explored. One device in clinical trials is a biodegradable progestin implant which would last from 12 to 18 months. The device is similar to Norplant but dissolves on its own. A device being explored by a Dutch pharmaceutical company is a ring that rests against the uterus releasing low dosages of estrogen and progesterone. The ring would remain in place for an extended period. In May, 1998, a new oral contraceptive for women—the first to use a shortened "hormone-free interval" and lower daily doses of estrogen—was approved by the FDA.

Other research focuses on male contraceptive methods. In 1996, the World Health Organization hailed a contraceptive injection of testosterone that drastically reduces the sperm count and which is 99% effective. This contraceptive will not be available for five to 10 years. Two other studies in male birth control are ongoing—one focuses on preventing sperm from breaking the egg's gel-like protective coating; the other on blocking protein receptors on the sperm so it cannot "dock" with the egg.

Western controversy over contraception continues. There is still disagreement concerning how widely contraception should be made available and how much public money should be spent on birth control. The conclusion of a report from the Institute of Medicine released in May 1996 entitled Contraceptive Research and Development: Looking to the Future, reads, "despite the undeniable richness of the science that could be marshalled to give the women and men of the world a broader, safer, more effective array of options for implementing decisions about contraception, childbearing, and prevention of sexually transmitted disease, dilemmas remain. These dilemmas have to do with laws and regulations, politics and ideology, economics and individual behavior, all interacting in a very complex synergy that could lead to the conclusion that nothing can be done to resolve the dilemmas because everything needs to be done."



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Connell, Elizabeth, and David A. Grimes. The Contraception Sourcebook. New York: McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 2001.

Darney, Philip, et al. A Clinical Guide for Contraception. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins Publishers, 2001.

Gordon, Linda. "Woman's Body, Woman's Right." A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

Guillebaud, John. Contraception Today: A Pocketbook for General Practitioners. 4th ed. Dunitz Martin, 2000.

Kass-Annese, Barbara. Natural Birth Control Made Simple. 7th ed. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, 2003.

Sanger, Margaret. Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Peter C. Engelman, eds. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2001.


Drife, J.O. "Contraceptive Problems in the Developed World." British Medical Bulletin 49, no. 1 (1993): 17–26.

Lincoln, D.W. "Contraception for the Year 2020." British Medical Journal 49, no. 1 (1993): 222–236.

Schenker, Joseph G., and Vicki Rabenou. "Family Planning: Cultural and Religious Perspectives." Human Reproduction 8, no. 6 (1993): 969–976.

Waites, G.M.H. "Male Fertility Regulation: The Challenges for the Year 2000." British Medical Journal 49, no. 1 (1993): 210-221.


Baylor college of Medicine. "Contraception On-line." (cited April 2003). <http://www.contraceptiononline.org/>

Patricia Braus


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—A hormone present in both males and females. It is present in much larger quantities in females, however, and is responsible for many of those physical characteristics which appear during female sexual maturation. It is used in birth control pills, to reduce menopausal discomfort, and in osteoporosis.


—Chemical regulator of physiology, growth, or development which is typically synthesized in one region of the body and active in another and is typically active in low concentrations.


—Female sex gland in which ova, eggs used in reproduction, are generated.


—Synthetic form of progesterone, the hormone which prepares the uterus for development of the fertilized egg.


—Substance secreted by the testes during sexual intercourse. Sperm includes spermatozoon, the mature male cell which is propelled by a tail and has the ability to fertilize the female egg.


—A group of organic compounds that belong to the lipid family and that include many important biochemical compounds including the sex hormones, certain vitamins, and cholesterol.


—Organ in female mammals in which embryo and fetus grow to maturity.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Condensation to CoshContraception - An Ancient Interest, A Controversial Practice, Evolution Of The Condom, Modern Times, The Pill And Its Offspring