International Conference on Family Planning 2009

Family Planning: Research and Best Practices

Looking Ahead: Contraceptive Technology

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Improving existing contraceptive technology promises to be a topic of import at this conference. Making such technological advances is critical to delivery, effectiveness and adherence, according to Laneta Dorflinger, of Family Health International.

During Monday’s opening plenary, Dorflinger delivered an overview of the research needs of contraceptive technology. Some of the current birth control methods have uncomfortable side effects, which discourages use. Another obstacle to adherence is that several are difficult to use consistently or correctly; birth control pills must be taken daily, for example, and implants must both inserted and removed during clinic visits. Developing a biodegradable implant would be one way to improve existing products. A one-size-fits-all diaphragm would be another.

Dorflinger also touched on some of the game-changing contraceptive technologies we might anticipate. She mentioned the prospect of non-surgical sterilization, as well as immuno-contraception, which would be delivered like a vaccine; this method might be permanent, perhaps with boosters, or reversible.

Some of the more exciting prospects are dual therapy and novel methods with additional benefits. Dual therapy might take the form of a vaginal ring that delivers hormonal contraception as well as antiretroviral therapy. Dorflinger was perhaps most excited about the possibility of novel methods that combine contraception with non-contraception benefits: “Wouldn’t it be great to offer women a drug that prevents breast cancer, but has one ‘side effect’ of providing contraception?”

Written by C. Grillo | JHSPH

November 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

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