Contraception is a prevention of pregnancy by interfering with normal process of fertilization, ovulation and implantation through the use of drugs, barriers, medical devices, surgical techniques.Unplanned pregnancies can be successfully prevented not only by the unhindered access to the availability of marketed products but also on the acceptability of the products and the willingness of the couple to use them. While the majority of women are motivated towards avoiding unwanted pregnancies, the use of contraceptives is still hindered by the consistency of methods used, the varying side effects and the failure rates of contraceptives.
Further, the costs associated with the consumption of contraceptives are also proving to be a major hindrance, with women in the developing economies of the world being further hurdled by existing biases against certain methods of contraception and their limited supplies.
The need for the development of innovative pregnancy prevention options has a direct impact on the dimensions of public health. It has been found that out of the 210 million pregnancies that take place annually in the world, more than 40 percent are unplanned ones. In addition to this, the HIV epidemic has furthered the cause of combining methods of contraception to the prevention of sexually transmitted infection or diseases. It can be said that research has failed to a certain extent to keep pace with the growing need for a variety of effective, safe, and acceptable methods of contraception. But ongoing investigations hold a promise of a variety of upcoming options. These include hormonal methods, chemical and mechanical barrier methods, male contraception, immune-contraceptives, and trans-cervical sterilization.
Chemical Barrier Methods
These methods can be used alone or also in combination with mechanical barriers for the provision of improvised protection against STDs or pregnancies. They can also be used as a backup in the case of failure of mechanical barriers. The ideal product, in this case, involves the product having minimal adverse effects as well minimal exposure. Many compounds which have possible antimicrobial effects and antifertility impact are being currently developed and tested.
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PRO 2000 and cellulose sulfate are the two contraceptive microbicides which are currently in the pipeline. These work by the inhibition of the functioning of sperms and also the attachment of pathogens which target epithelial cells. BufferGel, ACIDFORM gel, and Savvy are some of the other products being developed to enhance defense mechanisms from the female side.
Mechanical Barrier Methods
There has not been wide-spread acceptability when it comes to female-controlled methods of mechanical barrier protection, despite their unique ability for protecting and covering the cervix. There has been a huge increase in the number of new mechanical barrier being designed which substantially improvise over the conventional latex diaphragm. They have their own unique features but also share a number of features in common which include their relative ease of insertion and removal, their comfortability as they are made from medical grade silicone which also offers increased durability, and also the provision of more efficiency when compared to latex.
The SILCS intra-vaginal barrier, Lea’s Shield, FemCap, BufferGel Cup, and the Reddy Female Condom are some of the latest female mechanical barriers of contraception being developed by companies all around the world. They are expected to make female mechanical contraception affordable, comfortable and more acceptable to users globally.
Antigens that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that are capable of interrupting the reproductive process—immunocontraceptives—have been under investigation for a long time. The most promising is a vaccine intended to inhibit the function of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone necessary for the establishment of pregnancy. Several versions of the vaccine have undergone preclinical and clinical studies, but they have been mired in controversy over theoretical safety risks and potential for abuse.
The requirement for the development of methods that cater to the dual protection against STDs as well as pregnancy is increasing rapidly and most of the above mentioned products are yet to undergo clinical phase III trials. The need for dual protection has led to the re-emerging of interest in the improvisation of barrier methods. However, this renaissance is hindered by financial factors, legal concerns and political pressures which impede the research and development of novel methods of contraception.