Birth control research is moving beyond the pill | Science News

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Birth control research is moving beyond the pill

Contraceptive tactics include stopping sperm from developing and saving eggs for later

By
12:30pm, August 22, 2017
illustration of blocking fertilization

ACCESS DENIED  After decades of research, reproductive biologists are on the verge of developing new birth control options that stop sperm from maturing or save a woman's eggs for later.

Mention “the pill,” and only one kind of drug comes to mind. The claim that oral contraceptives have on that simple noun testifies to the pill’s singular effect in the United States. Introduced in 1960, the pill gave women reliable access to birth control for the first time. The opportunity to delay having children opened the door to higher education and professional careers for many women.

More than 50 years later, the most commonly used form of reversible contraception in this country is still the pill. Additional methods have been developed for women — such as implants, patches, vaginal rings and injectables — but most do basically the same thing as the pill: use synthetic versions of sex steroid hormones to suppress ovulation. The method has proved its merit, but the current crop of contraceptives doesn’t work for everyone. Some women can’t tolerate the side effects stemming from manipulation of the hormones. Others can’t use

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