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February 19, 2014

Here's What the Future of Birth Control Looks Like

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contraception

Photo Credit: Chris Craymer/Trunk Archive

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Ready for barely-there contraception? We bet you are. And if scientists have their way, you'll have it in the next few years. Here's what the future of safe sex looks like:

DUAL-USE VAGINAL RING

WHAT IT IS: A flexible ring inserted vaginally for up to three months. Prevents unwanted pregnancies and HIV and other STIs.
WHY IT'S INNOVATIVE: The current ring only protects against pregnancies.
WHEN AVAILABLE: In five to 10 years.
WILL WE ACTUALLY WANT IT? Could be revolutionary for women who can't remember to take the pill.

MICROBICIDES

WHAT IT IS: Like spermicides that prevent pregnancy but also kills STI and HIV pathogens.
WHY IT'S INNOVATIVE: Some lubes and condoms already contain spermicides but not STI-busting compounds.
WHEN AVAILABLE: In five years.
WILL WE ACTUALLY WANT IT? Probably mostly as backup protection.

PERICOITAL PILL

WHAT IT IS: A contraceptive pill used before or after getting busy.
WHY IT'S INNOVATIVE: It's an "on-demand" dose like the morning-after pill, but can be taken before sex.
WHEN AVAILABLE: Research funding has been difficult; only time will tell.
WILL WE ACTUALLY WANT IT? Ditching a daily pill is certainly attractive.

BIODEGRADABLE IMPLANT

WHAT IT IS: An implant that releases low levels of progestin, one of the two hormones in the pill, and disintegrates in the body when it's no longer effective.
WHY IT'S INNOVATIVE: Removal isn't necessary unless you want to conceive.
WHEN AVAILABLE: In 10 years.
WILL WE ACTUALLY WANT IT? One less trip to the doctor may mean more appeal.

CLEAN-SHEETS PILL

WHAT IT IS: A pre-sex pill for men that produces a semen-free orgasm, cutting the risk of STI transmission and unwanted pregnancy.
WHY IT'S INNOVATIVE: All of the fun, none of the mess.
WHEN AVAILABLE: Researchers are still attempting to fund an animal study, so humans won’t see the pill for a long time.
WILL WE ACTUALLY WANT IT? A hard sell for research funders; a harder one for men.


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