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New Contraceptive Gel: Better Than The Pill?

New Contraceptive Gel: Better Than The Pill?

I know that I’m always looking for a birth control alternative that reduces some of the pill’s side effects, so I was intrigued to see an article about a new contraceptive gel which (researchers claim) may reduce the incidence of side effects like acne and weight gain.  The gel, which women apply daily and which transfers doses of hormones to prevent pregnancy, was tested on 18 women in a new study.  Over the course of seven months, none of the women became pregnant.  It’s also safe for nursing mothers to use.

The lead researcher, Dr. Ruth Merkatz of the Population Council, pointed out the benefit of having more forms of birth control available, saying, “It is really helpful to have different ways of administering contraception.”

I agree with Jezebel’s Anna North, who seems cautiously excited about the new birth control.  She points out that it does nothing to address one of the most irritating aspects of the pill, which is daily usage, and also wonders whether it has an impact on the pill’s sexual side effects.  Side effects from birth control are also difficult to pin down, so I imagine that more studies will be needed before researchers can say that this gel is unlikely to cause certain side effects in most women.

The researchers are right: it’s always good to have more options.  But they have to be affordable, and as Anna points out, when on earth are they going to make a similar version for men?

What do you think?  Do you think a contraceptive gel would be popular, and is it necessary?

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110 comments

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7:17AM PST on Nov 12, 2010

more options are good

2:41PM PST on Nov 9, 2010

Tom Y - You can be in a relationship and still not want kids, you know.

3:41PM PDT on Nov 3, 2010

If the gel was only to be used during sex instead of condoms it would be a great idea. However, it's easier to remember to take a pill than to spread on a gel, so it may not be totally reliable.

1:53PM PDT on Nov 2, 2010

Tom Y. ASSUMES that all unwanted pregnancies happen outside "relationships."

WRONG! There are as many reasons for unwanted/unintended/disastrous pregnancies as there are women.

11:48AM PDT on Nov 2, 2010

A new contraceptive can't solve the old loss of moorings brought on by the sexual revolution. A lifetime's committed relationship remains the only sexual outlet that gives a needed emotional context -- even if it's occasionally overwhelmed by the vagaries of the human element, it's still the ideal with the proven track record. Outside of relationship, abstinence is the only failsafe sexual path.

8:29AM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

Anything that will slow down the growing population of humans on planet earth is very helpful. But we must measure the positive and negative effects of chemicals to prevent pregnancy over a condom. I for one think that condoms do suck, but they are better than having your girl put some chemical in her. If they could find a natural effective way that feels better than a condom and does not have harmful side effects like the pill they should...there must be something more natural. Big pharma may be keeping it from us.....but who knows.

7:00AM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

18 women isnt good enough...honestly.

1:44AM PDT on Oct 31, 2010

Ever heard of condoms? That is, if you were ever brave enough to trust a man with the responsibility of contraception :)

4:00PM PDT on Oct 30, 2010

we need contraceptives that are fool-proof, like IUDs. if the gel could be given weekly instead of daily that would be better at preventing user error.

6:35PM PDT on Oct 29, 2010

"one of the most irritating aspects of the pill, which is daily usage"

I'm afraid I have to disagree with this statement. I'm far more concerned about the side effects and possible complications, as I have reacted very badly to the Pill. I would have welcomed using a gel, although it is too late for me now. lol

The next step is to be better testing, as 18 is far too small a number, although I appreciate the article acknowledge that the concept was in its early stages of testing.

Enni S, the gel is not used internally. You apply it to your abdomen, thighs, arms or shoulders.

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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