What's Next In Birth Control?

In a medicine cabinet soon

red and blue pills
red and blue pills
(Image credit: Hugo Chang)

Birth-control chewables

FDA-approved in December, Femcon Fe is the first chewable oral contraceptive available in the U.S. The estrogen-progestin tablets come in packs of 28—including seven placebos—and have the same 99-plus percent efficacy rate with perfect use as other pills. Many experts, however, dismiss Femcon's minty tablets as gimmicky. After all, when's the last time you met someone who had trouble swallow-ing a conventional birth-control pill?

No more periods

First, women started skipping their placebo pills in order to escape the monthly bleed. Then, in 2003, came Seasonale, the first birth-control pill designed to reduce periods to four times per year. And if a new pill called Lybrel is approved, you could be looking at one tampon run every 12 months. The period you have on the Pill is a withdrawal bleed, not an actual period, so proponents of these pills say they're not that different than the regular Pill.

Male call

Researchers at Conrad and the Population Council are hard at work on male contraceptive injections and pills, patches, and gels that release combinations of testosterone and progestin to shut down sperm production. Early versions could be available in this country within five to 10 years.