Contraceptive Technology Innovation

  • Blog post
    The patch's microneedles penetrate the skin only slightly, causing less discomfort than traditional syringes.

    The patch's microneedles penetrate the skin only slightly, causing less discomfort than traditional syringes. Photo: Georgia Institute of Technology.

    The use of microneedle patches as a drug delivery platform has received a lot of media buzz of late. The concept of microneedles is actually several decades old. It has taken relatively recent advancements of microfabrication technology and manufacturing techniques to move the concept to reality. Today, this cutting-edge technology is being evaluated—and in some cases already being used—for diagnostic purposes and to deliver drugs, vaccines, and biotherapeutics. Indeed, the use of microneedle patches to deliver vaccines could be a major breakthrough impacting global health.

  • Blog post

    Begin with the end in mind. A phrase that is frequently used, it can mean different things in different contexts. In the field of contraceptive research and development, we often use the phrase to highlight the importance of keeping the needs and perspectives of potential end users front-and-center as we design, test, and evaluate new products. This means incorporating acceptability research into all phases of product development—as we brainstorm ideal methods to fill gaps in the method mix; shape and refine Target Product Profiles for new methods under development; conduct pre-clinical and clinical research; and develop strategies for product introduction.

  • Blog post
    Advocates hope to see a range of female condoms available in the United States and abroad.

    Advocates hope to see a range of female condoms available in the United States and abroad. Photo: PATH/Danny Ngan

    One small rule change being considered by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) could make a big difference in the pregnancy and HIV prevention worlds—and could expand female condom options available to women, men, and young people.

    The female condom is a valuable prevention tool that should be offered as part of a wide method mix. It is the only option available today that protects from both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and is designed for women and receptive partners to initiate.

  • Blog post
    FHI 360 LARCs user study

    FHI 360's study of user family planning preferences. Photo credit: Reinout Van Den Bergh Photography

    Why do women who do not want to get pregnant choose not to use modern family planning methods? While this question is not bounded by geographies, the most recent Guttmacher Institute report, which focused on the low- and middle-income countries, is most illuminating. The two most common answers given by married women were health reasons/side effects or fear of side effects (26%) and claims of infrequent sex or not being sexually active (24%). Among unmarried women, infrequent sex (49%) was the top reason.

    Equally informative are recent FHI 360 findings from a user preference study in Uganda and Burkina Faso showing that 75% of women currently using a method would be open to trying new technologies. It quickly becomes clear that existing methods do not satisfactorily address the changing needs of women throughout their 30- to 40-year reproductive journey.

    Not to be forgotten, male contraceptive methods remain limited, even though acceptability research indicates that a substantial number of men would use family planning options themselves, if available.

  • Blog post
    NuvaRing

    The contraceptive NuvaRing® was the first vaginal ring to be widely introduced. Today, newer contraceptive and multi-purpose rings are in development. © 2005 David Alexander, Courtesy of Photoshare

    When I was first learning about family planning methods as a teenager, there were seemingly two real options: condoms (for men, obviously—whoever heard of a female condom?) and the pill. I heard whispers of patches and injectables, but these were followed up with dire warnings from my friends about side effects. The idea of an implant in my arm was terrifying, and an IUD? You may as well have suggested parking a spaceship in my uterus. Besides, wasn’t that something for moms who’d had all their kids already? And, come on, a sponge? Really?

    I’m relieved to say I’ve learned plenty since then. Although I don’t have a background in public health, working at CCP has shored up my education in all things family planning. After four years here on the K4Health Project, I can comfortably discuss the various types of IUDs and explain why they’re a great method for many. I know about female condoms and how to use them, and I’ve even learned more about my old friend, oral contraceptive pills. Yet, as technology marches on, even newer family planning methods are reaching the marketplace. And in a world with 85 million unintended pregnancies per year and women still dying in childbirth daily, that’s good news for everyone.

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