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What’s new in contraception?

With birth control as with other areas of health and medicine, research is ongoing to develop newer and better options. Here are some of the latest advances.

Birth control patch: The birth control patch is a convenient alternative to the birth control pill. It is applied directly to the skin and is changed once or twice per week; it delivers the 2 hormones that are in regular birth control pills through the skin.

Contraceptive rings: Contraceptive rings are made of flexible plastic materials. They are inserted into the top of the vagina and held in place by the muscles there. A ring releases a low dose of hormones over a 3-week period and gives a high degree of contraceptive protection.

Nonprescription emergency contraception: As discussed in "Emergency contraception," emergency contraception is now available from your pharmacist without a doctor’s prescription. These products contains a female hormone called levonorgesterol (a progesterone) taken as a single dose of both tablets at once or as 2 doses, the second dose taken 12 hours after the first tablet. Emergency contraception must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex and is between 61% and 95% effective in preventing pregnancy, depending on when it is taken. The sooner it is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is, as it does not stop a pregnancy once fertilization has occurred. Emergency contraception does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and is not a reliable form of ongoing birth control.

Continuous birth control pills: For years, women have taken the birth control pill continuously at times in order to adjust the timing of their periods; for example, their wedding day, honeymoon, or a special trip. Research into the safety of extended use of birth control pills has resulted in the introduction of a product in the United States and Canada. This product is taken for 84 days in a row, and then stopped for 7 days, causing a period. This process is repeated 3 more times, resulting in 4 menstrual periods a year.The safety of longer continuous use over 3 months without a hormone-free period has not been tested, and should not be attempted. There are contraceptives on the market that contain the identical active ingredients, which could be used similarly, although they are not officially approved for that use.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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