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What to Expect from Contraception in Future

Nearly one third of the pregnancies are defined as ‘unintended’ all over the world. And 90 % of these women with pregnancies were using some contraceptive method in that moment, which failed to do its job. The scarier thing is that 28 percent of these pregnancies worldwide ended up with abortion. The conclusion is obvious: we desperately need good contraception. That is why scientists keep looking, and looking for new methods. And this powerful drive wouldn’t end ever.

What are our “haves”?

·  We have sex drive here

·  Family issue – we have a ‘should-situation’ with a child in our families

·  There are different methods of contraception available; many of them are uncomfortable, with serious side effects, with different failure rates, all that is no longer meet our expectations. So, we have an unmet need for family planning here

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What are our “wants”?

·   We want a safe sex

·   We really want a kid at some point in our lives

·   We want to be safe using different contraception methods (without side effects)

·   We want make using contraception comfortable (with the period of contraception, with the period of reverse, with the size of the device, etc.)

It is obvious, that contraception nowadays has become a “demand” for us. We demand safe and effective contraception. We want to combine what can not be combined for now. The public presses for more “natural products,” which should be safer, but at the same time demands that contraceptives have almost perfect efficacy.

Tendencies of future contraception

What are the tendencies for future contraception? Future contraception is influenced by the environmental factor. Social and cultural factors, prevalence of disease and demographic forces influence not only the use of contraceptives but also the development of new methods.

 We have now a lot of single men and women who just want to have sex without family planning issue. We have situation where childbearing is being delayed or even forgone altogether both in married couples or unmarried. With the development of bisexual intercourses (as well as with heterosexual) we have an increasing risk of transmission diseases, first of all transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.

The tendencies include:

1.  STDs factor

Those concerned with the development of new drugs and devices understand the need for effectiveness and now seeking positive health benefits - methods that prevent not only pregnancy but also sexually transmitted disease and, in the long term, common diseases such as breast cancer. As for the HIV-transmission – they seek the methods of protection in the form of topical virucidal agents, that ideally would also be spermicidal (not just a barrier method – condom).

Another tendency is to create a contraceptive that would provide protection against all STDs. Because none of them protect against all STDs by now. Moreover, they are highly dependent on perfect use and are variable by gender; and they also required double protection. Some of them though should be used only individually, as combining with other method may even enhance susceptibility to the risk of certain infections. Unfortunately, those contraceptives that best prevent pregnancy provide minimal protection against STDs.

2. More males in contraception

The tendency of the future is to involve more men in contraception. And men could also have some option besides classical condom or vasectomy. We can see the progress even now, more and more men are interested in new methods, seeking and dreaming of another non-permanent option.

Scientists have been working on a pill for men for years, but it has proven difficult to find something that stops sperm without also stopping men's sex drive. The latest idea how to avoid that is to combine a pill with an implant and an injection. This might kill sperm without also killing erections. Other options are coming in the future.

3.  Side effects factor

Traditional methods can have high failure rates and thus do not offer effective protection from unintended pregnancy. Popular methods (such as hormonal pills) have lots of side effects. The tendency is obvious – to reduce the rate of side effects while increasing the efficacy (as it was mentioned earlier).

A new generation of progestogens, for example, in other pills will reduce some of the side effects, including weight gain.

4. Seeking for  new way of taking contraceptive hormones

Taking pills by mouth is too uncomfortable with today’s way of life. You need to take it every day in a certain time. Once you forget – you need to use another method to avoid pregnancy. Now new methods of taking contraceptive hormones are designed. Women have been using skin patches for HRT for years but only now it has become available for contraception. Another new way of taking contraceptive hormones – a vaginal ring designed to fit near the cervix and stay in position for a month (that can be left there even during sex).

So-called “smart hormones” in gels or inhalers will also be developed to target the specific parts of the organs involved in fertility. These ways of taking contraceptive hormones will be available to replace today’s pills. Though, these new technologies are still in the early stages of development.

5. The right to change my mind

This is another tendency in the development of new methods. Whatever I choose for my contraception – I may change my mind. And I would want to stop using it without waiting for some time. This is the situation with the hormonal pills, when you are advised to take them at least three months before you stop. The same is with the contraceptive injection Depo-Provera. Once it is inside your body, it can't be taken out – you just have to wait until it wears off after about three months. New tendency is to shorten this period to month period or shorter.

6.  Long live condoms!

Men are rather traditional in contraceptive choices. What should you do… Men have been using condoms for centuries, this is in their DNA. Stop using it is just not possible. So, scientists, that are usually men, are soon going to renew their ‘old fellow’. Condoms are soon going to be available in new shapes and with new smells. A sock-condom (a condom that pulls on like a sock, and can be worn either way out) or a pair of latex underpants with a built-in condom facility are already in the market.

7. No surgery for contraception

We hate the idea of experiencing surgery to be able to avoid pregnancy. For example, sterilization is still the world's most popular method of contraception, and is still the scariest thing for both men and women to do. Non-surgical techniques are tendencies of the future. For women this is the Selective Tubal Occlusion Procedure (STOP), in which two titanium coils are inserted through the cervix to block the fallopian tubes. For men this is an injection of silicone to block the sperm-carrying vas deferens tubes. Both don’t require an operation.

8.  Last tendency is  MORE options

Scientists keep promising that to 2010 there will be much more choices of contraception. We will hope that they will meet our todays ‘wants’ and “demands” – to make sex be safe and a kid be planned. Wish them luck.

Valentyna Ant.

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