So what's new in contraception?
Scientists worldwide have been hard at work, pushing the boundaries of contraception research to provide individuals with safer, more effective and personalised birth control options. From improved hormonal contraceptives with reduced side effects to non-hormonal alternatives, we’re seeing our choices expanding.
Let’s learn more about the exciting research of 5 leading companies & institutions that are shaping the future of contraception:
Introducing Cirqle Biomedical -they are working on a revolutionary approach to birth control that involves making cervical mucus a better barrier to sperm. Cervical mucus is a gel-like discharge from the cervix that helps to protect the uterus and during ovulation acts as both a pathway and filter for sperm navigating through the cervix to the egg. Cirqle Biomedical’s technology makes this cervical mucus temporarily impenetrable, acting as a physical barrier between the sperm and the egg, hence not allowing fertilisation to happen. This will be an on-demand and hormonal-free method!
We asked CEO Frederik Petursson Madsen why he is so excited about Cirqle and this is what he said:
“Hormonal therapy revolutionised contraception when it was introduced more than 60 years ago. However, today we know that hormonal contraception can cause serious physical and mental side-effects for many women. We founded Cirqle Biomedical, to create a new breakthrough option for the millions of women who would prefer using a non-hormonal contraceptive.”
ZabBio is currently developing a revolutionary vaginal film that acts not only as a contraceptive, but also as an antiviral (helping reduce the risk of HIV and herpes for its users). What sets it apart from other birth control options is the use of antibodies (powerful molecules inside your body that help combat foreign substances). This groundbreaking method can offer users a more convenient, on-demand and hormone-free solution to birth control!
“Our goal is to provide new, clinically efficacious, and cost-effective, contraceptive options for women,” said Dr. Kevin Whaley CEO of ZabBio
Evofem introduced a game-changing contraceptive gel called Phexxi, designed to maintain the natural pH level of your vagina! (pH=measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is)
Normally, vaginas are quite acidic, but when semen is present, it makes the vagina’s pH more basic to allow the sperm to swim up the reproductive canal where it reaches the egg. Once Phexxi is used, it keeps the vagina acidic, which lowers sperm mobility. If they can’t swim, they can’t reach the egg!
Phexxi is on-demand and hormone-free and already on the market.
Weill Cornell Medicine
Doctors Lonny Levin and Jochen Buck, professors at Weill Cornell Medicine, are also up to some exciting research centred around contraception for people assigned male at birth. Their technology stops an important enzyme (soluble adenylyl cyclase) from working properly. This disables sperm mobility, ensuring that they can’t swim well (remember how important swimming is for pregnancy?). This is a hormone-free and on-demand method.
Center for Male Contraception Research and Development
Finally, the Center for Male Contraception Research & Development is currently working on a hormonal gel using an artificial hormone that “switches off” sperm production and lowers natural testosterone levels and synthetic testosterone to counter the effects of this. Designed to be applied daily to each shoulder and upper arm, it will be an on-demand, reversible and effective birth control method.
The Wrap Up
These innovations make for a new era of contraceptive possibilities, offering individuals greater control over their contraceptive method of choice. Stay tuned for more updates as researchers continue to push the boundaries of contraception research, opening up even more pathways to reproductive control.
Edited by Fiona Kennedy, MSc