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Contraception into the future

Friday, November 1, 2013


New contraceptive methods are constantly being researched and developed. Read on to find out what's in the pipeline for our contraceptive future.

Updates to popular contraceptives

These popular contraceptives are getting updated:

The pill

Imagine taking a pill that is not only a contraceptive but also combats bloating. New contraceptive pills are being developed that might address particular side effects such as this.

The injection

This is available as a DIY option in some countries. We’re not sure when or whether this will come about in New Zealand.

The contraceptive implant

An implant is being developed that would break down in the body over time. It therefore wouldn’t require a removal procedure but for this reason it would only suit women who are sure they do not want to get pregnant in the next five or so years.

The NuvaRing

The NuvaRing is a new method of contraception that has just become available in New Zealand.

It is a small plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina for three weeks. You then remove it to have your period, or immediately put in another one to skip it.

NuvaRings are 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. They work by slowly and constantly releasing a combination of oestrogen and progestogen to stop eggs from being produced.

This is the same combination that is in the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill so the risks associated with using the NuvaRing are the same as we discussed in our August issue of Contraception of the Month.

NuvaRing isn’t funded in New Zealand and will cost at least $75 for a three-month supply, plus the cost of visiting your doctor or Family Planning clinic.

Visits to a Family Planning clinic are free if you are under 22 and $5 if you have a Community Services Card.

Male contraception

Male hormonal contraception

Several studies around the world are researching hormonal contraception for men.

These mostly involve a combination of progestogen and synthetic testosterone. This stops sperm from being produced while keeping testosterone levels high enough to prevent side effects such as loss of sex drive.

Some of the studies into male hormonal contraceptives are in phase III trials. This is the last stage of clinical trials before a drug can be made available on prescription.

Hormonal male contraceptives are often referred to as the ‘male pill’ but they might not end up being in pill form. They might also be injected, implanted or come in the form of a gel. Opportunities abound!

Male non-hormonal contraception

Some promising research around non-hormonal male contraceptives is on reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (RISUG).

This involves an injection of a non-toxic chemical gel into the vas deferens (the tube that carries sperm to the penis). The chemical blocks the vas deferens and also kills sperm that come into contact with it.

One injection provides up to ten years of contraception. If a man wants to regain his fertility, the method is reversible with another injection to flush out the gel.

The contraceptive that is right for you might still be in the making. Keep an eye out for these and other new developments.

Visit UK’s National Health Service website for more information on male contraception

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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