The Next Frontier In BIrth Control

With more and more alternatives to condoms becoming popularized as methods of birth control, women are gaining the ability to be more autonomous in their sexuality and responsible for their sexual health. reports that the most recent development in this field is the introduction of "multi-purpose prevention technologies" (MPTs), which prevent pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections at once.

OZY says that "MPTs could take various forms: a diaphragm sold together with an HIV prevention gel, an intravaginal ring that releases both pregnancy-preventing hormones and HIV-blocking drugs, and more." The website for the Coalition of Advancing Multipurpose Technologies, the organization spearheading MPT research and development, lists a few of the benefits that come along with MPTs.

MPTs enable women to better protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, by delivering a broader spectrum of protection at one time. Our international initiative is advancing the MPT field to realize a suite of products that will address women’s diverse needs and preferences.

Innovative female-initiated MPTs now in development will allow women to:

  • Better plan and space their children.
  • Avoid HIV and the impact of unintended pregnancy, including maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.
  • Avert the risks of infertility and cancer that can result when some STIs are left untreated.

There has been a lot of emphasis in recent years on male birth control, which is a cool idea because it takes the onus off women who have sex with men to be the only ones responsible for popping pills every day, and it gives men who have sex with women an almost fool-proof way to take responsibility for their part in preventing pregnancy.

There are, however, a few problems with the focus on male birth control. Though anyone can transmit disease to anyone else, it is only females who get pregnant. Effective birth control should be more readily available to females because, even if and when it is available to men, they can refuse to use it with fewer consequences. According to Joseph Romano, the scientific adviser to CAMI, "Women in the highest-risk populations don’t always have the capacity to successfully negotiate [condom] use with their partner." The development of female birth control will take away that need to negotiate and shift the power imbalance.

Women in the highest-risk populations don’t always have the capacity to successfully negotiate condom use with their partner.

Though the Pill has done and will continue to do a lot for contraception and the condom has helped us to take better preventative measures, CAMI Health thinks it's time to step it up and take a twofold approach to fighting infection and unintended pregnancy. I couldn't agree more.

Images: Giphy