World Population Awareness

Birth Control Choices

   1997, United Nations Population Fund

"All couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information and means to do so." doclink

   February 2000, Chicago Tribune

A century ago, women feared dying in childbirth and yet could do little to control conception. The Comstock laws clamped down on freedom of information by making it a crime to send "obscene" material through the mail, including birth control information and devices. In 1916, Margaret Sanger was arrested for distributing diaphragms. In the 10 days her Brooklyn clinic was open, she fitted 488 women with diaphragms, an indication of women's unmet need to control pregnancy. Legal abortion wasn't even on the agenda. doclink

A Brief History of Contraception

   February 18, 2015, Atlantic Monthly   By: Jackie Lay

The use of contraceptives dates all the way back to 1850 B.C., when women in ancient Egypt used honey, acacia leaves, and lint to block sperm. This two-minute animation traces the history of contraception through the centuries, from sea sponges (500 B.C.), linen sheath condoms (1564), lemon cervical caps (1700), and the "rhythm method" (1920) to modern advancements such as vaginal rings, hormone injections, IUDs, and patches. doclink

Birth Control Choices

My IUD (Skyla): Insertion and First 3 Days Experience

   February 10, 2015, You Tube   By: Tashasays

This is a video of my talking about my insertion process of getting the Skyla IUD. Also, I speak on my experience for the first 3 days. You can read the full post on! doclink

How a Billionaire-Backed IUD is Fighting the GOP War on Women's Bodies

Republicans should love Liletta, but instead they're fighting it every step of the way
   October 27, 2015, AlterNet   By: Kali Holloway

Liletta is a new intrauterine device which became available in April. It is affordable, safe, 99% effective, and widely accessible. Studies prove the IUD reduces rates of unplanned pregnancies, and it's been shown to decrease the number of teen abortions. Once Liletta is inserted by a healthcare professional, it can remain in place for up to three years without any patient intervention, effectively eliminating the kinds of user errors that lead to pregnancy.

In multiple studies, Liletta has been proven safe, placing it far outside the troubled history of IUDs.

Unfortunately the conservative response has been to obstruct the use and availability of Liletta and similar contraceptive methods at every opportunity. Their mission seems like one less focused on protecting the sanctity of human life than it is penalizing and stigmatizing women for having non-reproductive sex.

Most IUDs cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200 -- prohibitively priced for most family planning clinics, many of which are already severely underfunded. But with Liletta, its developer Medicines360 has capped out-of-pocket expenditures for insured women at $75, and in cases where patients qualify financially, even that cost can be subsidized. Medicines360 has made it a priority that public health care centers can purchase the IUD at just $50 a pop, allowing them to keep plenty in stock. Batches of Liletta have been recently shipped to 49 states, with more than half of the devices going to clinics that serve low-income patients.

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the philanthropic organization co-founded by Warren Buffett and his late wife, has recently focused on funding family planning work, spending an estimated $200 million to determine the best and most effective contraceptive methods, underwriting costs for product development, conducting clinical trials, and creating distribution channels that ensure affordability.

Judith DeSarno of the Buffett Foundation, said that Warren "thinks that unless women can control their fertility -- and that it's basically their right to control their fertility-that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States."

In 2007, the Buffett Foundation gave approximately $20 million to fund the Contraceptive Choice Project, a three-year study involving more than 9,000 women of childbearing age in St. Louis, Missouri. Participants were given information about various types of birth control, with particular insights on IUDs, and offered the method of their choice for free. 56% ultimately opted for an IUD, proving women would be interested in the devices when armed with the right information.

Between 2008 and 2013, the Buffett Foundation spent over $50 million in Colorado on a project that offered free and reduced-cost IUDs to some 30,000 women through 68 family planning clinics statewide. Subsequently the teen birth rate in the state fell by 40% from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42%, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper said that "Colorado moved from the 29th lowest teenage birth rate in the nation before the initiative began in 2008 to 19th lowest in 2012." The project saved the state "$42.5 million in public funds in 2010 alone."

In the 1970s and '80s, IUDs were synonymous with the Dalkon Shield, a brand that was recalled for causing septic abortions, infertility, and in rare cases, death. In 2000, the FDA-approved Mirena hit the market, followed in 2013 by pharmaceutical giant Bayer's Skyla, both of which helped revive interest in the IUD for a generation of women less familiar with its history.

To remedy the dark name of the IUD, the Buffett Foundation spent $74 million to launch Medicines360, which immediately set about creating a generic IUD. Liletta was the result.

There are nearly 3.4 million unintended pregnancies each year in America; many likely to end in abortion. Poor and low-income women, more specifically, are five times more likely than wealthier women to experience both unplanned pregnancies and unintended births, according to a Brookings Institute study.

Although conservatives often discuss the birth rate among women in underserved communities as if it points to some innate, class-based moral failing, Brookings notes that rates of premarital sex are not socioeconomically determined. "There is no 'sex gap' by income," researchers write.

A study by the Guttmacher Institute of women aged 18-34 with household incomes below $75,000 found that cost led many women to cut corners with their birth control, skipping pills, delaying prescriptions, or adopting a one-month-on, one-month-off approach to taking the pill. One in four women who struggle financially are forced to take such measures, compared to among women with financial stability, whose rate is roughly one in seventeen.

Because of the upfront cost of IUDs and hormonal implants, low-income women are less likely to access these most effective forms of birth control, which are 99% successful in preventing pregnancy.

Another Guttmacher survey finds that a "majority of respondents reported that birth control use had allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families (63%), support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%), or keep or get a job (50%). Young women, unmarried women, and those without children reported more reasons for using contraception than others: not being able to afford a baby, not being ready for children, feeling that having a baby would interrupt their goals, and wanting to maintain control in their lives were the most commonly reported reasons for using birth control.

Many conservatives might not be interested in the self-determination birth control provides for women. But as a measure that helps reduce abortions and unwanted births -- they should be all for it. In 2010, nearly 70% of unintended births were paid for by public insurance programs, especially Medicaid. The GOP, which supposedly values dollars and cents above all else, should appreciate any solution likely to send those numbers downward.

Early this summer, House Republicans voted to eliminate funding for Title X, the only federal program which specifically funds family planning and reproductive-health services, including birth control, for low-income women. Now they are currently trying to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides a long list of family planning services to millions of women. Abortions represent just 3% of the services Planned Parenthood offers, a figure Republicans might care about if any of this was actually about abortion.

Conservatives in Texas, Kansas, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama are trying to defund Planned Parenthood at the local level. Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics don't even provide abortion services, "so defunding it would only keep low-income patients...from accessing cancer screenings and other preventative health-care." Across the country, health care clinics have been rapidly disappearing, thanks to Republican efforts.

In 2014 the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision ruled in favor of a companies with closely held religious beliefs to opt out of providing women insurance that covers the cost of IUDs and some morning-after pills. (Hobby Lobby says IUDs are abortifacients; doctors and elementary school-level reproductive science say that's not true.)

Ann Friedman wrote of the decision: "The Supreme Court's decision -- and most reproductive-health restrictions passed by lawmakers across America over the past several decades -- expresses the view that women make their choice when they choose sex, and it's up to them to figure it out after that. That there is no social or moral or governmental obligation to make it easier for them to make choices that follow from a perfectly human impulse to want sex but not babies. For women, sex is an option, an inessential luxury like LASIK eye surgery."

In Colorado, after money ran out on a family planning project that resulted in a massive drop in teen pregnancies and abortions across the board, conservatives in the legislature turned down a bill to fund the program. One local anti-choice group said giving teens access to contraception "does not help them understand the risks that come with sexual activities."

These anti-choicers want no part of a program that teaches young women how to be sexually responsible, or that doesn't scare them into believing the only way sex can end is badly. These same conservatives refuse to fund anything that benefits children once they leave the uterus, who vilify single mothers, who bemoan "entitlement programs" for the most vulnerable families and children. In voting against those measures, conservatives are voting for teen pregnancy, unplanned births and abortion.

As more clinics introduce Liletta to their clients, and more health care plans offer it as a choice (mine does!), the 10% of women who rely on IUDs for birth control will only continue to grow. Republicans will keep pushing for policies that attempt to stop women from having sex, instead of plans that actually benefit women's reproductive health and offer real choice. doclink

Female Condoms Are Power, Protection, Pleasure

   September 2015, Pathfinder International

To these young women, the female condom is a game changer

In some parts of the world, a woman asking a man to wear a condom is counter to cultural practices. A condom for women puts the power and protection in her hands. Pathfinder International is on the ground around the world working to tear down these barriers and we need your help.

September 16 was Global Female Condom Day. Join us in spreading the word about condoms for women! doclink

First Self-injectable Contraceptive Unveiled in UK

Pfizer launches Sayana Press long-acting reversible contraceptive which can be administered at home instead of a GP surgery or clinic
   September 24, 2015, Mail and Guardian

The Sayana Press long-acting reversible contraceptive has received a license, which means women can inject themselves at home instead of having to go to their GP surgery or clinic.

Each jab of the UK's first self-injectable contraceptive for women provides contraception for at least 13 weeks. Around 5 million women in the UK use hormonal contraceptives. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Chances of getting pregnant with the Sayana Press: less than one percent. If women wait too long between shots, the failure rate increases to 6%.

Fertility does return once the injections are stopped, but the time varies from one woman to the next. Some women may not be able to conceive for up to a year, sometimes longer, after having their last injection. Read here for more if you are interested in using Sayana Press:

Birth Control Methods

   July 2014, Bedsider

Visit this interactive website to learn about the various forms of birth control. Which ones are the most effective? Which are hormone free? And other questions are answered. doclink

Forget the Pill, IUD is the New Queen of Birth Control

With an estimated 4 million unintentional pregnancies each year, gynecologists are urging their patients switch from oral contraceptives to an intrauterine device (IUD). Just three years after doctors cast it off as unsuitable, the IUD is reigning supreme.
   May 30, 2014   By: Sarah Kunst

In the United States there 4 million live births each year, and half are estimated to be unplanned or unintended. Of the majority of unplanned births the largest majority come from women in their 20s.

With the questionable efficacy of condoms and the widespread misuse of birth control, an alternative has now been recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Intrauterine devices (IUD). With less than one pregnancy per 100 women in a year, its the most effective birth control method available on the market, yet only 10% of women using birth control are using this form of birth control.

It has been estimated that of the 2 million births in America in 2011 came unexpectedly. According to Dr. Tina Raine-Bennett of the Women's Health Research Institute at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, "20-24-year-olds have highest number of unintended pregnancies across all demographic groups while over one-third of unintended pregnancies end in abortion."

Despite current birth control methods, in 2012 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists got behind the IUD recommending it as the preferred birth control option for all women, even those who haven't yet given birth. Although there are risks, that can be said for any drug or implant. Smaller issues that result from IUDs mirror those of other contraceptives, such as menstrual cramps, spotting, or infection. But more dangerous issues can, in rare cases, arise. One in about 1000 users may experience perforation (the IUD puncturing the uterus wall), while others may experience expulsion (the IUD falling out completely).

Overall there is hope for the device, and studies show women are generally more satisfied with IUDs compared to the pill. doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is really where we ought to be focusing. IUDs are more expensive and many women don't know enough about them. Let's start helping projects that focus on IUDs, making them affordable, and making sure contraceptive counselling includes them.

U.S.: The Rise of the IUD

   December 11, 2014, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-ressler

Long acting reversible methods of birth control (LARCs) is a category of highly effective contraceptives that includes intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants. These methods are chosen by U.S. women more and more, according to the CDC, despite political controversy stoked by religious conservatives, who assert they're comparable to abortion.

The birth control pill has been the most common contraception for many years. Long-acting birth control, meanwhile, has historically been one of the least popular methods even though it's actually the most effective reversible option.

From 2006 to 2013, the rate of women choosing IUDs and implants nearly doubled -- jumping from 3.8% to 7.2%.

In the past, doctors avoided prescribing IUDs to young women who hadn't yet given birth, assuming that they would be too hard to insert or that younger patients wouldn't want to stick with the method. And some medical professionals have been reluctant to give long-term contraceptives to unmarried women, reflecting somewhat of a discomfort with female sexuality outside of serious relationships.

Recent research in the field has confirmed that IUDs are safe for younger women, and that, when presented with all the options, teenage girls are 16 times more likely to choose an IUD than any other method. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Academy of Pediatrics now encourage doctors to give IUDs to their teenage patients.

Obamacare's birth control benefit eliminates out-of-pocket costs for FDA-approved contraception, so women no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars upfront to insert an IUD.

Right-wing religious groups claim that IUDs are a form of abortion, even though there's no scientific evidence to back that up. doclink

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Medical Abortion

Australia: Evidence Shows RU486 May Be Safer Than Surgical Abortion

   November 21, 2005, AAP (Australia)

The Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is backing an effective ban on the pill RU486 to be lifted. The drug should be made available to Australian women. The evidence suggests it may be safer than surgical termination of pregnancy. John Howard signalled he would offer Liberal MPs a conscience vote on the issue. In Australia, women wanting to use RU486 have to apply through their doctor for government approval. The Australian Democrats plan to move an amendment which would remove Mr Abbott's powers to grant approval for the drug's use. Mr Abbott has cited health department advice which warned it could be dangerous for women in rural and remote areas because its use requires medical supervision and access to emergency care. But that advice has been discredited by experts. The first decision a woman makes is whether or not she wishes to have a termination of pregnancy and why she would prefer a surgical or a medical termination. Practitioners would have good evidence so they could discuss that with the woman so she can make an informed decision. doclink

U.S.: More Health Professionals Balk at Giving Birth Control

   August 8, 2004, Copley News Service

The overwhelming number of Americans support birth control and use it. However, A small percentage of physicians, nurses and pharmacists have steered clear of supplying contraceptives because of religious convictions. A pharmacist in Cincinnati refuses to fill birth-control prescriptions because she considers abortion a sin and a termination of human life. Some doctors contend that millions of American women are wrongly prescribed birth-control drugs when alternatives such as natural family planning are cheaper and carry fewer health risks. More than 400 health care providers attended the American Academy of Fertility Care Professionals conference, triple the number the previous year. Organizers say the increase is fueled by religious doctrines and advances in drug-free contraception and fertility practices. The issue centers on when human life begins and for many this is when a sperm penetrates an egg, for others once the fertilized egg is implanted in the woman's uterus. Others believe it is when a baby draws its first breath. With such wide-ranging interpretations, the forms of contraception can present difficult moral choices for health care practitioners and some experts wrestle over whether measures of contraception are ethical. The Catholic Church and other religious institutions have long preached against most forms of birth control beyond abstinence or the rhythm method. Twelve million women rely on hormonal contraceptives, which require a prescription, to keep from getting pregnant, but the number of physicians and medical professionals who believe that using birth control and morning-after pills is abortion appears to be increasing. The war on choice is not just about abortion anymore, it's about the right to birth control. In rural communities, patients may have to drive miles to obtain or fill a prescription. Wal-Mart, dispenses birth-control pills but refuses to sell emergency contraception. The San Diego office of Planned Parenthood allows patients to sign up over the Internet for the morning-after pill, which has to be taken within hours of intercourse to be fully effective. Trying to force your beliefs on others is not only arrogant, it breaks the American covenant, which is tolerance of other people's beliefs. Most of the regulatory boards allow health care professionals to opt out of treatments for moral reasons as long as they arrange alternatives for their patients. At least 20 states have bills pending that would recognize the rights of physicians and pharmacists to deny prescribing birth control, but such legislation has only become law South Dakota. Some companies allow workers to refuse service to customers, and others do not. doclink

U.S.: After 2 More Deaths, Planned Parenthood Alters Method for Abortion Pill

   March 18, 2006, New York Times*

Planned Parenthood announced that it would change the way it gives RU-486, or Mifeprex. The F.D.A. has received reports that six women in the US died after taking the pills, and a seventh died in Canada. The previous four resulted from infections with Clostridium sordellii. One of the two recent deaths occurred within days of the victim's undergoing a pill-based abortion, while the other woman died within five weeks. Mifeprex has been used in more than 560,000 medical abortions in the US and more than 1.5 million in Europe. The risks of death after using the pill are similar to the risks after surgical abortions or childbirth. When Mifeprex was approved in 2000, the standard regimen was to give the drug in a doctor's office followed two days later by an oral dose of a different drug, misoprostol, also in a doctor's office. Women expelled the fetus over the following days or weeks in a process that mimicked a miscarriage. The procedure must begin within 49 days of conception. Soon after Mifeprex's approval, most doctors instructed women to insert misoprostol vaginally at home two to three days after taking Mifeprex. But this regimen was not approved by the drug agency. As reports of deaths trickled into the F.D.A., officials issued warnings that doctors should stick to the approved regimen but until Friday, Planned Parenthood had rejected those warnings. Patients would still be asked to take the second drug orally at home. The drug agency said it was "investigating all the circumstances associated with these cases." The agency repeated that women who undergo pill-based abortions should be vigilant for signs of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea and weakness with or without abdominal pain and they should be given antibiotics. Doctors may not associate a death with a pill-based abortion, especially if the death occurs weeks later. The risk of infections could be eliminated if abortion patients were given antibiotics as a preventative. But officials say that the risk of infection from Clostridium sordellii is so slight that it does not merit such a precaution. doclink

Scientists Will Gather to Discuss Safety of Abortion Pill

   May 11, 2006, New York Times*

Worried about a bacterial infection that led to the deaths of at least five women who took the abortion pill RU-486, scientists from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health will consider whether the means of administering abortion drugs make pregnant women more susceptible to the bacterium Clostridium sordellii and whether the deaths signal the emergence of a more virulent strain of the bacterium. The five deaths were from infection by Clostridium sordellii, which can induce toxic shock. The cause of a sixth death has not been announced. Clostridium sordellii infections are rare, but pregnancy appears to increase the risks. Abortion experts have been at a loss to explain why four of the deaths occurred in California. Tests had found no evidence of contamination of the pills .

Another theory concerned the role a dry climate might play. Some experts believe that pregnant women who take RU-486 with another drug, misoprostol, are more vulnerable to infection. The pill causes uterine contractions that expel the dead fetus.

The F.D.A. in 2000 approved a protocol that requires women to take misoprostol orally. But abortion providers have instructed women to insert misoprostol vaginally and some scientists say the vaginal insertion may introduce bacteria.

In 2004, the F.D.A. put strong warnings regarding the risks of infection on RU-486 labels but is not considering further restrictions.

The National Abortion Federation's insurer insisted that its clinics use the F.D.A. protocol when providing abortion drugs. In the US some abortion doctors have decided against using RU-486 altogether.

Until March, Planned Parenthood, continued to instruct its doctors to give misoprostol vaginally, but with the sixth death, the organization now uses an oral protocol. The risk of death with pill-based abortions now appears to be about 10 times that of surgical abortions.

RU-486 might make women more susceptible to Clostridium sordellii because the drug may inhibit mechanisms that moderate immunity.

The oral administration of misoprostol is more common in Europe, but vaginal use has been growing.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which provides 25% of all abortions in Britain, said her agency relied on vaginal drug insertion.

Clinics in Sweden and Hong Kong do the same, and vaginal use is growing in France. doclink

U.S.: HHS Moves to Define Contraception as Abortion

   July 15, 2008, RH Reality Check website

The Department of Health and Human Services released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. It is attempting to redefine the birth control, which 40% of Americans use, as abortion. This would protect extremists. The proposed laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services.

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy and there are two views on when a pregnancy begins. Some consider it begins at the fertilization of the egg by the sperm, while others consider it to begin when the embryo implants in the lining of the uterus. About 49% of Americans believe that human life begins at conception and think that any action that destroys human life after conception is abortion. Those who believe pregnancy begins at implantation believe abortion only includes the destruction of a human being after it has implanted.

Some medical authorities have defined the term "established pregnancy" as occurring after implantation. Others present different definitions. For example, pregnancy is "the state of a female after conception and until the termination of the gestation." or "the condition of having a developing embryo or fetus in the body, after union of an oocyte and spermatozoon".

Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy as: pregnancy begins at implantation. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment and there would be no way for a woman to prove she's not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception.

There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, under "abortion." In 1999, the physicians released an open letter stating: "Some special interest groups have claimed that some methods of contraception may have an abortifacient effect. It is speculation, and if a family, decides to use this modality, we are confident that they are not using an abortifacient."

The absence of evidence does not slow anti-abortion attempts to classify hormonal contraception as abortion. Because the statutes seek, in part, to protect the conscience of the individual or institution within the bounds of reason. Both definitions of pregnancy are reasonable. The Department proposes to allow individuals and institutions to adhere to their own views. So HHS proposes that anyone can enforce his or her own definition of abortion "within the bounds of reason." This new rule establishes a legal precedent that may be used as a basis for banning the most popular forms of birth control with abortion. doclink

Study: Home-Administered Misoprostol Safe Abortion Option for Women Up to 63 Days Pregnant

   March 15, 2010, IPPF

Swedish researchers conclude that taking misoprostol at home as part of a medical abortion regimen is a safe option for women who are 50 to 63 days pregnant. In the U.S., women have been permitted to take physician- prescribed misoprostol at home since 2000.

Mifepristone -- the first drug in the medical abortion regimen, which is taken three to four days prior to misoprostol -- is administered at a clinic, physician's office or hospital. Most European countries require that women take both drugs in a clinic, doctor's office or hospital.

Among women who were fewer than 50 days pregnant, 199 experienced complete abortions, while 186 of the women who were between 50 and 63 days pregnant experienced complete abortions. Ten women required surgery. About six in 10 women needed extra pain medication. doclink

The First 12 Seconds of This Video Should End the Anti-Birth-Control Argument

   September 5, 2012, Upworthy   By: Rollie Williams

It couldn't be a more clear-cut issue. Women need to be able to control their own futures, and the way to make that possible is through readily available contraception (which would consequently save 700,000 lives per year). Seriously, how could we possibly have gender equality without it?

Giving women and girls access to family planning tools and information is the easiest way to empower them to determine their own futures.

Raise your voice and pledge to support family planning for the millions who need and want it: doclink

Karen Gaia says: Contraceptives prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg. Saying that contraceptive is killing unborn children is like saying every time a woman menstruates or a man ejaculates outside of vaginal intercourse -- they are killing babies.

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The Abortion Pill

Male Responsibility

The Economics of Male Birth Control

   October 19, 2015, Priceonomics   By: Rosie Cima

Women have a lot of options for reversible birth control: pills, rings, intra uterine devices, patches, implants, while men are still limited to condoms and withdrawal.

In the 1950s. Carl Djerassi, a chemist, synthesized noresthisterone, an essential component of the first oral contraceptive. His involvement earned him the title, shared with Dr. Gregory Goodwin Pincus, "Father of The Pill." Djerassi said "scientifically, we know how to create a 'male Pill,'" but because of a combination of legal, social, and biological factors, male contraceptive technology hasn't been able to attract the necessary research dollars.

Elaine Lissner, one of his former students, has been working on advancing male contraception research since 1986, when she became interested in the work of a Swiss doctor, Dr. Marthe Voegeli, who discovered a method of male contraception in the 1930s that involved soaking the testes in a hot bath once a day for three weeks. 45-minute-soaks in water 116˚ F resulted in 6 months of infertility. Participants who discontinued use of the method went on to successfully have children, with no apparent complications.

Lissner found it maddening that, though it was eventually used by hundreds of volunteers in India, it was never developed and implemented into an accepted clinical procedure. In a seminar taught by Djerassi, Lissner wrote a report on male contraception. Her research turned up eight, non-hormonal methods that were known to work, but not in use.

Within the health care and pharmaceutical industry, it was believed that there was "no public demand" for new male contraceptives.

Lissner wrote articles on male contraception in Ms. and Changing Men in 1992. For her article in Ms., Lissner received over 200 hand-written letters in response, from both women and men, most of them interested in knowing more about male contraception.

But a product that would better-facilitate sex without the threat of pregnancy existed was considered immoral and obscene. Thus, it was a taboo to attempt to satisfy it.

It took a while for people to come around to the Pill, and once they had, it was assumed, for a long time, that men would not be interested in having their own version.

However, between condoms and vasectomy, men are already covering about a quarter of the country's birth control. If you add withdrawal, that's even more," Lissner adds. Men use the techniques available to them in great numbers, despite the limitations of those methods. Why should anybody think they wouldn't be interested in another option?

Gary Gamerman, a former consultant to Lissner's foundation and vice president of Afaxys, Inc., said to "take the time and effort to develop and test a completely new product, or just an improvement, you could easily spend $20-$50 million. To launch it you're going to spend another $30-40 million in marketing. And the whole thing will take 5 years at the very minimum."

Also any new product pharma companies could introduce would be likely to cannibalize their existing products. After all, one reason for a man to want to use a reversible contraceptive is so his partner can stop taking the pill.

Both old and new companies are deterred from investing in developing new contraception techniques because the liability is much higher than in other areas of research.

With female contraception, the less desirable side effects are offset by the health complications that can arise from unwanted pregnancy. Not so with male contraception products.

Lissner founded the Parsemus Foundation at the end of 2005 after coming into some cash and finding great strides had been made in the non-profit and academic sectors.

First Parsemus tested ultrasound contraception, a variation on Voegeli's method to heat testicles using a hot bath. The method worked great for dogs and rats, but not for humans.

In the last few decades, most of the truly new contraceptive technology was incubated outside the commercial sector and then purchased and brought to market. This includes the popular Mirena IUD, the new Liletta IUD, and the ParaGard copper IUD. Products like Essure -- a tubal ligation alternative -- were developed when a small medical devices company was trying to make something else, and then bought by a larger company.

The California Institute for Biomedical Research recently founded a startup called DARÉ Bioscience. DARÉ's mission is to connect the groups developing the technology -- mostly non-profits and academic organizations -- to more traditional investment dollars. The Gates Foundation and US Agency for International Development fund contraceptive research.

The presiding wisdom is that in these more traditional societies, birth control is still very much a "women's issue," and men are less receptive to anything that might limit their virility.

Parsemus is doing its best to catch male contraception as it falls through the cracks. In 2010, the foundation bought the rights outside India to RISUG: Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance. RISUG is a male contraception product that was developed at the Indian Institute of Technology, and would be the model for Vasalgel.

Compared to hormonal birth control, the technology behind RISUG and Vasalgel is simple: the vas deferens is extracted with forceps, as in a vasectomy, and then injected with a gel. When the patient wants his fertility back, they inject the vas deferens with a solvent, and the gel goes away.

RISUG's gel is thought not to rely on blocking the vas deferens entirely, but also destroy or disable the sperm as they pass through.

"Part of what's held male contraception up for so long is a narrowness of thinking," Lissner complains. She says that for a long time people assumed that reversible male contraception would be hormonal, like the female pill. "You've got this narrow tube that all the sperm have to go through. Why not attack there instead of pumping hormones through the whole body?"

RISUG made it all the way to advanced clinical human trials in India, but Vasalgel is still in development for human use. Human trials are expected to start next year, in 2016. If everything goes well, the product could hit the market in 2018.

If that happens, Vasalgel will probably be the salvation of many would-be fathers, who will be glad to have another option. As a man once wrote to Lissner, "Condoms are a nice method. However, I have a 3-year-old that proves they are not 100 percent effective." doclink

Male Birth Control Without Condoms by 2017

   September 9, 2014, International Business Times (UK)   By: Maria Khan

Vasalgel is a new non-hormonal male contraceptive which is similar to a no-scalpel vasectomy, will be released between 2016-2017, according to its maker, the Parsemus Foundation.

"We'll have to charge enough to make the company sustainable, but for sure it won't be $800 like long-acting contraceptives (IUDs) for women in the US. A contraceptive shouldn't cost more than a flat-screen TV!"

While Vasalgel is similar to vasectomy, it has the significant advantage of being reversible.

A gel is injected into the vas deferens (the tube the sperm swim through), rather than cutting the vas (as is done in vasectomy). If a man wishes to restore flow of sperm, whether after months or years, the polymer is flushed out of the vas with another injection," stated the Parsemus Foundation.

With a recent grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, it is hoped that clinical trials with humans will begin by early 2015. doclink

The Vasectomist

   June 17, 2013, Vasectomist website

The Vasectomist tells the story of Dr. Doug Stein, one of the world's leading providers of vasectomies as he travels throughout Florida and the world promoting men's role in family planning. While our film is just finished, our campaign to build awareness about the underlying issues that motivated the project is only just beginning.

On October 18, 2013, we are launching WORLD VASECTOMY DAY to inspire a global conversation. We will bring together 100 vasectomists and 1,000 men in 25 countries to dedicate their vasectomies to the wellbeing of Mother Earth. Dr Doug Stein will lead our 'vasectomy-athon' from Adelaide at the Royal Institution of Australia. Surrounding Doug as he performs vasectomies will be leading experts on population, including author Professor Paul Ehrlich, as well as leaders from varying fields, both those in favor of vasectomies as a contraceptive solution and those opposed. The entire event will be live-streamed as our film has its world premiere. In addition, the film will be screened around the world on World Vasectomy Day by our international broadcasting partners SBS (Australia), CBC (Canada), VPRO (The Netherlands) and DR (Denmark).

In summary, we are proposing a global round table conversation on the most important topic of our time and we'd like your support.

Jonathan Stack

Watch episode 1 of The Vasectomy Series doclink

Karen Gaia says: Vasectomies are an important part of family planning and of voluntary male participation in particular, but - so far - not as popular or as effective in reducing overall fertility as the current non-permanent methods, most of which are used by females. India's most common method of birth control - for many years - has been sterilization. However, Indian women (and likely men) are reluctant to get sterilized until after a son is born, and birth spacing is not accomplished with sterilization. If a woman can space her children, she is more likely to have fewer children because spaced children are healthier and more satisfying to raise.

Finally, a Pill for Men 'with No Side-effects' Which Could Be on the Shelves in a Few Years

   June 6, 2011, Daily Mail / Mail Online

Scientists have developed a drug which temporarily stops sperm production without causing any side effects or long-term harm to male fertility. It will be a male version of the contraceptive Pill.

Until now there has been limited success comimg up with a male Pill, although attempts have been made for many years. Most of the drugs recently developed involve an injection, and many contain steroids which have damaging side-effects including heart disease and impotence.

It has only been tested on mice, long-term studies on humans will be done within a few years.

The pill impairs the male body's ability to use vitamin A, which is vital for the production of sperm. The drug's developers say it will not affect sight. They also claim a man would start producing sperm again almost as soon as he stopped taking the pill.

The pill probably would be taken once a day, but scientists are working on a version that would only need to be taken once a week.

This pill does not affect levels of the sex hormone testosterone, which was a problem with earlier male contraception, especially since altering testosterone levels has been linked to changes in cholesterol levels, which can raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It can also affect a man's sex drive and lead to weight gain.

Experts believe that a male version of the Pill would give couples more choice and place more responsibility on the man rather than the woman. doclink

Radical New Birth Control for Men 100% Effective

   June 1, 2011, Technorati

Men have had only two options when it comes to birth control, condoms or vasectomy, compared to women's many choices: pills, shots, patches, lubes, and tying their tubes.

However, now scientists in India have developed an injection for men called RISUG, or "reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance" that has so far proven to be 100% effective. It lasts 10 years and can be reversed with another injection with no side effects.

Having their partner assume the responsibility for birth control will help some women who suffer side effects of birth control: weight gain and loss, hormone imbalances, and frail bones, and others who have low fertility levels to start with, which is emotionally and physiologically draining if combined with a contraceptive that also lowers fertility.

Getting the injection is the difficult part, involving two needle sticks into the scrotum, the procedure taking about 15 minutes or so. A non toxic, positively charged polymer is injected into the tube that the sperm pass through on their way from the testicles. The polymer shocks (kills) the sperm, which have a negative charge.

Because the injection last 10 years, drug companies won't be making money from RISUG.

India is about to go into Stage III trials with RISUG, practically the last step before it can be used by anyone in India. Thanks to Bill Gates and a 100k donation from the Gates Foundation, we might get RISUG approved here in the US. The company in charge of trying to bring it here is Parsemus, and they are trying to see if RISUG can work on women, too. vp

The author suggests giving RISUG to adolescents: there would be less abortions, and less accidental pregnancies. doclink

India: More Men Go for Hassle-Free Sterilisation

   January 23, 2006, Indo-Asian News Service

More Indian men are going for a sterilisation method that does away with surgery. The 'no-scalpel vasectomy' (NSV) involves a tiny puncture in the abdomen of the male and the cost is just Rs.100. Though male sterilisation came first, men were unwilling to undergo the procedure, but it has now progressed to three percent male sterilisation at the national level. The NSV procedure, which is faster and safer than conventional vasectomy, was started in China in 1974 and India adopted the technique in 1992. In the last two years, around 80,000 male sterilisations were done. It was initially a difficult task to convince men to undergo the procedure. Around 5,000 doctors in India have been trained in NSV. A few states are yet to participate. Though the NSV surgeons target 20 percent male sterilisation in the country in the next five years, it will be a matter of pride for Punjab to achieve the feat this year. Now men above the age of 35 years were showing keen interest in NSV. In Punjab, NSV campaigns create "faith in men about the process". By 2050 the Indian population will total 1.63 billion and China's 1.44 billion. doclink

Hong Kong: Men Choose Marriage, Women Opt for Abortion

   October 26, 2005, South China Morning Post

When faced with unexpected pregnancy, young Hong Kong men are more keen to get married than women. 56% of men would suggest marriage if their partners fell pregnant, while 51% of women would choose abortion and only 39% would opt for marriage. Even though the males are not economically ready, they tend to shoulder the responsibility and marry their girlfriends. The female, who is often more pragmatic, tends to choose abortion as a solution. The survey's findings also suggest that young women often opt for the morning after pill as a means of contraception, with 51% admitting they would continue to have sex if no contraception was used and 28% saying they would take emergency contraceptive pills afterwards. 66% of men said they would continue to have sex. Women often dealt with unplanned pregnancy by going to the mainland for terminations. When it came to the responsibility for contraception most couples felt this should be shared. doclink

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India: Drug Firms Push Unapproved Fertility Drugs

   January 2, 2004,

Lax drug regulations in India allow companies to push unapproved drugs and contraceptives that pose risks to women's health. They are distributed through private practitioners and quacks and nothing is being done to prevent it. The government agreed to investigate the use of anti cancer Letrozole as a pro-fertility drug. SUN Pharmaceuticals and Dabur (India) Ltd have been warned from promoting Letrozole pending its approval as a fertility drug. It has been approved in India for breast cancer but doctors have used it to improve fertility in women. Several doctors acknowledged that they were encouraged to test the drugs on infertile women by representatives from the pharmaceutical companies. 400 women are believed to have used the drug on a trial basis. It is said to be toxic to embryo and foetus, by the original discoverer, and drug regulators, including the US (USFDA), the British (BMHRA) and Australian (TGA). The anti malarial drug Quinacrine banned for use as a contraceptive has been widely distributed and used on women who are not informed of its effects. 32 women who where sterilised with Quincarine were unaware it had been banned and had serious health hazards. Practitioners who break the ban are immune from prosecution. doclink

Quinicrine for Sterilization

   March 26, 2005, Richard Grossman, Ob-Gyn

Quinacrine has also been used to scar a woman's tubes, making her permanently sterile (quinacrine sterilization, or QS). The current method is to use seven little pellets that are inserted using a modified IUD inserter, then repeat in a month. After both treatments, about 95 % of women will be sterile. In some cases the percentage is even higher--approaching 100 %. The side effects and risks of serious problems are very small, as is the co... doclink

Birth Control Usage in the USA

U.S. Clears Bristol-Myers Chewable Contraceptive

   November 20, 2003, Reuters

U.S. regulators approved the first chewable oral contraceptive for women, a spearmint-flavored tablet called Ovcon 35. Bristol-Myers will manufacture the product, and Warner Chilcott, will market it, the Food and Drug Administration said. It contains progestin and estrogen and may be swallowed whole or chewed and swallowed. Women who chew the tablet should drink an 8-ounce glass of liquid afterwards so the full dose reaches the stomach. The drug's possible side effects are similar to those of other birth control pills. doclink

U.S. Government Says Study on Birth Control Pill's Benefits was Flawed

   December 16, 2004, Associated Press

A study concluding that birth control pills slightly lowered the risk of heart disease has been called flawed by federal officials who say it wasn't properly reviewed. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute said these analyses hadn't been properly reviewed, and a new analysis determined that the heart findings were flawed and they could not find a relationship. The breast cancer findings also are suspect now, she said. The research is best known for its finding that taking hormones after menopause raised the risk of certain cancers and heart problems. It relies on women's memories of drugs they used in previous years rather than actual records. Previous studies that were scientifically sound have found that pill-users have a small increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and stroke. Pill users reported a 8% less risk of cardiovascular disease and 7% less risk of cancer. But those findings were not verified with medical records. Scientists want to look at the data. doclink

U.S.: AMA: Doctors Should Be Able to Sell Drugs

   June 22, 2005, UPI

The American Medical Association wants physicians to be able to dispense medications if a pharmacist claims a conscientious objection and balks at filling the prescription. Faced with reports pharmacists are citing conscientious objections to filling prescriptions for contraceptives and other drugs, the AMA called for state laws that would allow physicians to dispense medications when no nearby pharmacist is willing to do so. The policy would affect rural areas where no pharmacist can be found within a 30-mile radius. The new policy is an attempt to overcome a trend by pharmacists who say they cannot dispense the emergency contraception pill, birth control pills; drugs used to treat psychiatric illnesses; and, often, pain medications. Not only are the patients not getting prescriptions filled, but pharmacists are refusing to return the prescriptions and lecturing the patients about the drugs. The Pharmacists Association recognizes an individual pharmacist's right to exercise conscientious refusal and supports systems to ensure patient access to legally prescribed therapy. Physicians say that means pharmacists must refer patients to other pharmacists who are willing to fill the prescriptions. The Pharmacists Association said it has not received any complaints about pharmacists refusing to refer patients or refusing to return prescriptions. The pharmacist organization has no mechanism to censure pharmacists who refuse to refer patients or refuse to return prescriptions. doclink

Burning Bras? It's the Pill That Gave Women Freedom

   July 18, 2005, Daily Mail

The availability of birth control pills and liberal abortion laws have had the greatest impact by far on women's lives in recent years. A new study by researchers at the London School of Economics, which collected data from 45,000 women in Britain and 11 other European countries, indicates that the birth control pill, which became available to married women in 1961, has enabled women to stay in school longer, get better paying jobs and derive better satisfaction from life.

The study found that other items on the feminist agenda, such as parity in divorce laws and better maternity leave policies, had minimal, or in the case of divorce, a negative impact on women's lives. But the benefits of birth control and legal abortions for women have been on a par with substantial pay rises.

Anti-abortion advocates have maintained that while these benefits have indeed accrued to women, their extension to teenagers and younger women have resulted in loose morals and lower birth rates, without the same economic advantage that is deemed vital for the woman who has entered the workforce. doclink

Birth Control: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

   July 29, 2011, The Nation (US)

On the heels of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation that birth control be covered by all insurance plans, and without co-payment, the author reviewed Janet Farrell Brodie's fascinating Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America.

In antebellum America,there were tracts like Charles Knowlton's "Fruits of Philosophy or the Private Companion of Young Married People" (contained a summary of what was then known about the physiology of conception, listed a number of methods to treat infertility and impotence, and explained a method of birth control: to wash out the vagina after intercourse with certain chemical solutions); newspapers carried ads for medications; and douches and 'womb veils,' early forms of the diaphragm, which some women wore for years at a time.

In most states abortion before 'quickening' was legal until after the Civil War and widely practiced; abortifacient drugs were easy to find under brand names like The Samaritan's Gift for Females.

Nineteenth-century methods included withdrawal (not for everyone), reusable condoms, and douching with cold water and baking soda after intercourse. Some so-called experts got the rhythm method exactly backward. With these methods backed up by abortion, the average native-born American woman had only four in 1900 compared to eight in 1800, despite the clampdown on birth control and information by the Comstock laws of the 1870s.

Contraception is not some newfangled fad foisted by the cultural elite on decent God-fearing folk. Americans have striven to separate sex from reproduction for more than two centuries. Today 99%of women have used birth control at some point. It is lifesaving and health-preserving medicine. And yet the myth that birth control is 'controversial' persists.

How many women does it take to equal one bishop? doclink

U.S.: A Political History of Contraception: When the Catholic Church Nearly Approved the Pill

   February 26, 2012, Washington Post

The battle over birth control was fought and won half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world.

The move toward acceptance of contraception began in the early 20th century and accelerated in the 1940s. When the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Abraham Stone, medical director of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau, explained at the time that "planned parenthood" signaled "the need for individual couples to plan their families and for nations to plan their populations."

In 1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower declare: "The government will not, so long as I am here, have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with the problem of birth control. That's not our business." But in the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy - the first Catholic US president - supported family-planning programs as part of foreign aid. Then Eisenhower came around, saying "Governments must act. . . . Failure would limit the expectations of future generations to abject poverty and suffering and bring down upon us history's condemnation."

Thereafter, for two decades, every American president promoted contraception as an essential part of domestic and foreign policy. Even the Catholic Church considered lifting its prohibition on contraception - and almost did.

Prior to the 1930s, the church had no official position on contraception. But on Dec. 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI issued a papal encyclical which for the first time explicitly prohibited Catholics from using contraception.

Margaret Sanger, a daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants, protested the pope's decree; her passionate commitment to promoting birth control stemmed from watching her mother weaken and die at age 50, having given birth to 11 children. She blamed her mother's premature death on constant childbearing and lack of access to contraceptives.

John Rock, a devout Catholic doctor - who taught at Harvard Medical School and who would become one of the leading clinical researchers responsible for developing the pill - also opposed the ban. Besides being medically necessary at times, he said it was personally desirable for maintaining happy marriages and well-planned families and essential for those who could not afford many children. In the 1940s, Rock promoted diaphragms - even though birth control was illegal in Massachusetts.

Rock believed church would accept the pill was a means of birth control because it simply repressed ovulation and replicated the body's hormonal condition in early pregnancy. He even wrote a book on it: "The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor's Proposals to End the Battle Over Birth Control."

In 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, which resulted in a number of reforms that modernized church practices. But he died as he was putting together a committee to consider the matter of the pill. In 1964, Pope Paul appointed a commission to advise him on birth control. Many journalists, clergy and lay Catholics expected the church to lift the ban. A significant majority of its members including 60 of 64 theologians and nine of the 15 cardinals favored lifting the ban. But Pope Paul issued a formal encyclical, Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life") in 1968, siding with the minority and reaffirming the church's prohibition of any form of artificial birth control.

Many Catholic leaders criticized the decision. Two years after the decree, two-thirds of Catholic women were using contraception. Now, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, Catholic women use birth control at the same rate as non-Catholic women.

In 1984, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the United States sent two opponents of abortion rights to a United Nations conference on population in Mexico City. These delegates established the Mexico City Policy, a global gag rule that refused U.S. government support to any agency, American or foreign, that used its own funds to support abortion services. Such facilities were prohibited from receiving any U.S. funds for family planning, even if the money would not be used for abortion-related services.

It was after this that bipartisan support for contraception began to crumble.

The Mexico City Policy was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton, reinstated by Republican George W. Bush, and rescinded by Democratic President Barack Obama.

Now, even though more than 99% of sexually experienced women report having used contraception, we are once again debating whether women should have access to birth control. doclink

Condoms, STDs

South Africa: Can a Faster Condom Help Prevent HIV? Unwrap This Timesaver Before You Get Busy

   October 22, 2011, Today's Good

Pronto is a condom that claims to go from package to shaft within three seconds. The inventor of South African Willem van Renburg, who sought to develop a barrier method that didn't "kill the mood" with all that awkward fumbling. South Africa has the world's highest population of HIV-positive people.

Men refusing to wear condoms is a major factor in the global spread of HIV. Traditional rubbers present problems of smell, fit, feel, the length of time and difficulty in putting them on. Reducing that process to a second could go a long way in convincing some couples to stay safe.

Pronto's packaging doubles as an applicator. Users just need to crack the package in half, slip it on, and discard the applicator in one quick motion. doclink

Uganda: Condom Crisis; it is Anticipated That If All the Condoms Come in on Time, and All the Development Partners Honour Their Pledges, the Country's Stocks Will Hit 157 Million Condoms, Enough to Last to Year End

   February 1, 2006, East African (Kenya)

Uganda has ordered enough condoms to create a buffer stock to last to the end of the year. If all come in on time, the country's stocks will hit 157 million condoms, enough to last up to the end of the year. Some of the condoms had been distributed while others are awaiting post shipment test clearance. On average, the country has an annual consumption of 80-120 million condoms. 20 million emergency condoms have been procured through funding from the Ireland, Denmark, Sweden. The increase in imports comes after warnings that the US Plan For Aids Relief eschewing condom use, was forcing Uganda to promote abstinence above other workable options. Last year USAID, distributed 5.3 million to high-risk groups such as clinics that treat sexually transmitted, infections, internally displaced persons and commercial sex workers, while 18 million condoms procured through the UNFPA are at the medical stores in Entebbe. USAID ordered 34 million condoms of which 23 million were targeted for the public sector; and 76 million Lifeguard condoms have been ordered for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, of which 55 million will be for the public sector. Another 1 million condoms, a gift from China, are also expected before the end of the year. The Ministry of Health maintained that the condom shortage resulted from the discovery that a batch of Engabu condoms from China was "bad" and supply had to be halted. Condom distribution is co-ordinated by the Ministry of Health and distributed through public health facilities up to the grassroots. Hotels, bars and lodges are involved in dispensing of condoms. Uganda had been promoting the Engabu brand of condoms but they were withdrawn due to complaints of defects and foul smell in one of the batches. Experts attribute the drop in HIV from 30% to 6% to condom use. Demand for condoms reached 100 million a fourfold increase in 1995 due to Aids awareness and public education on condom use. Uganda has made considerable progress to ensure that sexually doclink

Demand for Condoms on the Rise in Kashmir

   January 9, 2006

Demand for condoms in Muslim- majority Indian Kashmir has outstripped supply. The government has sent a letter to the federal Health Ministry seeking fresh supplies. Kashmir's Family Welfare Department, which distributes condoms for free, had been forced to turn away condom- seekers, the official said. Despite the fact that Islam forbids the use of contraceptives, the demand for condoms in Kashmir has risen significantly. The wellfare department distributed about 1,1-million condoms in 2002, 1,8-million in 2003 and 2,6-million in 2004. Last year's figure outstripped that of the previous year. Pharmacist Altaf Ahmed said condom sales were increasing every year. Most of those buying condoms, he added, were shy Kashmiris who reluctantly asked: "Can we have a pack of protection?" doclink

U.S.: F.D.A. Reports Reduced Risks With Condoms

   November 11, 2005, New York Times*

The FDA said found that latex condoms are "highly effective" at preventing infection by H.I.V., gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis and hepatitis B. Condoms seem to be less effective against genital herpes, human papillomavirus, syphilis and chancroid because lesions from these diseases may appear on skin not covered by condoms. Still, condoms provide protection against each of these diseases and the typical pregnancy rate after six months' reliance on condoms is 5.4% to 7.9%. Senator Tom Coburn, who sponsored the report, criticized its contents as the latest example where the agency has provided inaccurate information about condoms. Mr. Coburn claims that condom labels provide exaggerated reassurance that condoms protect against sexually transmitted disease. Mr. Coburn complained that the agency overstated condoms' protection against the virus that causes cervical cancer. The report discusses the risks and benefits of condoms that use as a lubricant the spermicide Nonoxynol-9. Studies suggest this may increase the risks of infection by sexually transmitted diseases because it irritates vaginal and anal skin. The report dealt only with latex condoms. doclink

Birth Control Condom Campaign to Begin in Conservative Afghanistan

   May 3, 2004, Agence France Presse

Population Services International (PSI) has begun to distribute in Afghanistan about 1.6 million 'Number One' condoms at the price of one Afghani (2 US cents). The project has been a success, but they face their biggest challenge when they begin a public awareness campaign. 400,000 condoms have been sold in four months but because of the cultural context they adopt an approach not to offend Afghan sensitivities. Prophylactics are available but little used and always hidden. The PSI condoms will be sold in navy packs of three with bright yellow writing devoid of sexual references. It has been difficult to translate the instructions and to design packaging which doesn't shock - for example, to use a diagram to illustrate how to put on a condom or to translate into local languages instructions issued with condoms in Western countries. PSI abandoned their slogan "Have a smaller family" as unsuitable where a woman is expected to have five or six babies. "Have a more comfortable life, make your family Number One" will be used instead. Financed by the US, the 5 million dollar programme plans to distribute female contraceptives, the pill, water purification and anti-mosquito products. With few cases of HIV/AIDS, the promotion of condoms is to encourage couples to space their children and fight against Afghanistan's maternal mortality rate, one of the highest in the world. doclink

Condoms in India Find New Life as Sari Cleaners, Highway Surfaces: Only One-Quarter of Health Devices Were 'Properly Utilized,' Health Workers Say

   August 13, 2004, Daily Telegraph

Only 25% of more than one billion free condoms manufactured annually in India were used to combat AIDS and a soaring population. Health workers said millions were melted down and made into toys, or sold as balloons. Villagers used them as water containers to wash, after relieving themselves in the fields. India's soldiers covered their gun barrels as protection against dust. Of the 891 million condoms to be handed out, many were acquired by road contractors who mixed them with concrete and tar that renders road surfaces smooth and resistant to cracks. A large number of condoms was used to waterproof roofs. Weavers used 200,000 condoms daily to lubricate looms and to polish the gold and silver thread used to embroider saris. Condoms were purchased in bulk from agents, who acquired them from agencies in family planning and AIDS prevention. The government began distributing free condoms in the 1960s. The country's population stood at about one billion on March 1, 2001, and is forecast to reach 1.5 billion by 2035. doclink

Condoms: Extra Protection

   January 24, 2005, Consumer Reports

Condoms remain the only method that also can help prevent HIV that infects 110 Americans each day, at least half under 25. Concerns have evolved over older sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, because they have become resistant to the drugs used to treat them. The study evaluated 23 kinds of latex condoms and two types made of polyurethane, marketed to people allergic to latex. All latex condoms passed minimum standards but none exist for polyurethane. We found no correlation between performance and price, thickness, or the country of manufacture. Condoms are tested by inflating them until they burst and the best had no premature breakage among the 120 samples tested for each model and also averaged at least 38 liters of air. The worst broke 18 of 120 times below 25 liters. Most models met standards for length and thickness but Durex Extra Sensitive, Durex Performax, larger-size versions of TheyFit, and Trojan Magnum slightly exceeded the maximum width. There's no reason to choose spermicidal condoms as they have no benefit in preventing pregnancy, have a shorter shelf life, and may cause urinary-tract infections in young women. Nonoxynol-9 came under scrutiny when a report from the WHO warned that if used frequently, it may cause vaginal irritation and increase the risk of HIV. Some condom makers have dropped models with nonoxynol-9. In our tests, condoms labeled "ultra thin" lived up to that claim. TheyFit condoms come in 55 sizes. The Inspiral Lubricated has a raised, wraparound "seashell" tip. Two condoms had a "desensitizing" lubricant containing benzocaine to delay orgasm; another a lubricant to "warm" on contact with body fluids. Any of the top-rated latex condoms offer the best protection. Don't use condoms past their expiration date, never reuse a condom and store in a cool, dry place. Open the packet with care and use only water-based lubricants, such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly. If you're allergic to latex buy condoms made from a synthetic material such as polyurethane; lambskin is too porous to prevent disease. For plain-language instructions on using a condom, use the Web site doclink

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Natural Birth Control and Religious Alternatives

Philippines: Feeding, Clothing, and Sheltering

   November 22, 2005, The News (Philippines)

With the ecosystems getting more fragile, society must confront the problem of feeding, clothing, and sheltering the masses yet to come. One solution is the aggressive promotion of birth control. The Philippine population of 85 million may double in the next 25 to 29 years unless the government supports the use of birth control. The country's population growth is the highest in the region, and the Philippines may fail its poverty reduction targets if it continues to oppose the use of contraceptives. The government has yet to allocate resources for modern contraception in a situation where the natural method of birth control is not effective. One of the most beautiful things for two people in love is to make love but if it will bring forth an innocent child it must be loved and fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated. If these are beyond you, resort to birth control. A woman with a regular menstrual cycle has seven or more fertile days each month. Periodic abstinence means you do not have sex on the days that you may be fertile. Fertility awareness means that you can be abstinent or you use a method to keep sperm from getting to the egg. Oral Contraceptives are taken daily to block the release of eggs and are 95% to 99.9% effective. The Mini-Pill has progestin, and taken daily prevents sperm from reaching the egg. Continuous Abstinence means not having sexual intercourse at any time and is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy. NO method of birth control prevents pregnancy all of the time. Birth control methods can fail, but you can increase a method's success by using it correctly. Inquire about other methods suited to your own reproductive health needs: Intrauterine Device, Female Condom, Depo-Provera, Diaphram, Cervical Cap or Shield, Contraceptive Sponge, The Patch, Hormonal Vaginal Contraceptive Ring, Surgical Sterilization Non-surgical Sterilization, and Emergency Contraception. doclink

FDA Clears New Saliva-based Test for Determining Ovulation

   August 16, 2003, TCI Optics - Diagnostics & Imaging Update

TCI Optics is introducing a saliva-based test, called OvuLook to determine when women are ovulating and improve their chances of getting pregnant. The test is a reusable mini-microscope no bigger than a compact. The woman places a drop of saliva onto the device, lets it dry and pushes a button. A light stays on for 45 seconds to see the results. The OvuLook tells when ovulation is nearing which is important as a women's egg only survives 24 hours. The "ferning" pattern that appears on the device allows a women to accurately pinpoint ovulation. OvuLook is the first device of its kind to receive clearance from the FDA. Other devices which test saliva have been approved by the FDA, but with them women can't save their results to detect patterns in their cycles. TCI Optics has improvements to make based on feedback from women, before introducing the product commercially. In trials, the results showed 98% accuracy. The product will be manufactured in the Czech Republic and will be on sale in 30 to 45 days. doclink

Natural Family Planning Aid Cycle Beads

   December 11, 2003, Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal profiled CycleBeads, an inexpensive aid for natural family planning. The device consists of a ring of color-coded beads, each representing one day in a woman's menstrual cycle. A woman considers herself able to become pregnant on days 8 through 19, requiring a 12-day period of abstinence or a method of birth control. The device can be used only by women with regular menstrual cycles between 26 and 32 days. This method had a first-year pregnancy rate comparable to condoms, spermicides or diaphragms. doclink

Australia: Birth Control Experts Cast Doubts on Updated Rhythm Method

   April 11, 2004, The Age

Creators of a new rhythm contraception say it is reliable, but Australian experts are not enthusiastic. Researchers at Georgetown University in the US call their version the Standard Days method. A computer model based on 7500 menstrual cycles compiled by the WHO, identified a 12-day window when a woman can become pregnant. For example, a woman who has sex on the Tuesday before the Saturday she ovulates has only a slight chance of becoming pregnant. On the Wednesday that chance is greater and so on until the Sunday after she ovulates, when she has little chance of becoming pregnant. It will work only with women whose cycles are reliably 26-32 days long which accounts for 80% of the population. The Standard Days method comes with a set of beads that allows women to chart their cycle. On day one a band is placed around the first bead and each day is moved one bead until it reaches the first of 12 white beads, which are the days the woman is fertile. In Australia, the oral contraceptive pill is the primary method of birth control, but 3% practise abstinence. Trials have shown the Standard Days' failure rate is 5% if used perfectly, but it doesn't come near other forms of contraception. The pill has a failure rate of 5% in the first year but 1% in perfect use. Condoms 14% in the first year, but 3% when used properly. But unless women are in a stable long-term, monogamous relationship, they should use condoms to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases. The rhythm method is gaining appeal, with more than 100,000 women using it but condoms are promoted in developing countries because of AIDS, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Western family planning groups are increasingly offering the Standard Method as an alternative for women wanting hormone-free, non-invasive birth control. doclink

Workshop on Fertility Awareness Concludes

   April 18, 2004, The Hindu

Participants at a two-day workshop evolved an action plan to create awareness regarding the natural method of family planning. Population has to be stabilised and the programme is to create awareness regarding the menstrual cycle of women and the fertile and non-fertile days. The target groups are couples who want to delay the first child and for spacing the second child. Coloured beads provided by the programme help women keep track of their menstrual cycle. A woman who has regular cycles between 26-32 days, the fertile period of 12 days starts from the 8th day of starting the menstrual flow to the 19th day. The method can also be used for couples who are planning to have a child. In the slum where the plan was introduced, there was an improvement in interpersonal communication between the man and woman. doclink

Pakistan: Clerics Express Reservations on Use of Contraceptives

   June 1, 2005, Daily Times

Clerics have expressed reservation on the use of contraceptives as they restrict reproduction and conflict with Islamic injunctions. Some clerics have called for separating married HIV patients from their spouses although NACP officials said it would be a social boycott of infected people. Sources said the clerics were not impressed by the NACP standpoint. Clerics said if a person committed 'adultery' and was infected with the virus, he/she did not have the right to deceive his/her family and there were no guarantees that using contraceptives would avoid transmitting the disease. NACP observed that it was difficult to determine whether an individual was infected through sexual intercourse, a contaminated syringe or unscreened blood. The NACP prepared an information kit for the clerics, which covered HIV among young people, the diseases transfer from mother to child and HIV reduction measures. The text was revised to suit Islamic ideologies and by taking into consideration Pakistan's unique characteristics. doclink

Philippines: Church Will Take Pill to Supreme Court

   April 2, 2005, Standard, The

In an effort to block passage of a bill on reproductive health, Church supporters in the Phillapines will petition the Supreme Court to rule on whether contraceptives such as IUD and the Pill induce abortion. If they are abortion-inducing materials and chemicals, and since abortion is illegal, these contraceptives will be banned. Foreign companies who are distributing pills and other chemicals and materials will be named respondents. Businessmen said they support the move to consult the Supreme Court and propose to conduct a massive information campaign on the merits of the natural family planning method. Bishop Antonio Ledesma said about 600 couples in his 19 parishes practice natural methods. He supports the move to ask the Supreme Court to settle the abortion question and showed journalists rosary-like beads used in the Standard Days method to tell a woman's fertile and nonfertile days. doclink

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India: Achieving Family Planning Goals with 'Cycle Beads'

   September 20, 2005, Press Trust of India

What the 'nasbandi' of the 70's and the family planning drives could not achieve, doctors are trying to accomplish through a simple colour-coded set of beads. Called the Standard Days Method (SDM), it uses colour beads to identify fertile and non-fertile days and plan spacing between pregnancies. The method has been developed by American researchers and is being used in nearly 25 countries. In a country like India, where 78% of pregnancies are unplanned and nearly 25% unwanted, it can serve as an inexpensive, and 95% per cent effective method of preventing pregnancy. The Indian government has included it in the Reproductive Child Health programme for expanding contraceptive choices and this simple, method should be made widely accessible. doclink

Delay 'Sexual Debut' - Study: Teen Abstinence; 'Did Not Reduce Plans to Use Condoms'

   August 15, 2006, CanWest News Service

Abstinence-only programs can reduce sexual activity among teens and delay their "sexual debut." A study of 662 African-American Grade 6 and 7 students from found that those taught abstinence-only were less likely to have had sexual intercourse 24 months later. Abstinence programs delay sexual debut and make teens more likely to use condoms when they do start having sex. It did not reduce intentions to use condoms, reduce beliefs about the efficacy of condoms, or decrease consistent condom use. The youngsters in the study ranged from 10 to 15; half were girls; 23% said they had sexual intercourse at least once before the study began.

The study compared abstinence-only with those put through a "safer sex" intervention that emphasized frequent condom use but makes no mention of abstinence.

Planned Parenthood has called the approach a challenge to the nation's sexual health. The Bush administration has promoted abstinence as prevention, a policy critics say ends up discouraging condom use.

But there is no logical reason that an abstinence intervention cannot be effective.

The abstinence intervention in this study promoted abstinence from vaginal, anal and oral sex until a youth would be able to handle the consequences of a sexual relationship. doclink

Karen Gaia says: What did it prove? Apparently the study failed to compare abstinence-only with programs that advised abstinence but taught safe sex just in case teens were already sexually active.

Child Free

The Childless Revolution

   March 4, 2004, NPR

From the NPR show with Dick Gordon (audio stream broadcast): Imagine restaurants with no crying children, adult-only neighborhoods, a museum with no kids. These are some of the ideas that a new group is advocating. They call themselves THINKERS - T-H-I-N-K-E-R - Two Healthy Incomes No Kids Early Retirement. They're tired of being discriminated against, and inconvenienced by a society obsessed with children. They're fed up with parking spaces reserved for pregnant moms, time off work for parents, and unequal expectations at the office. With baby boomers nearing retirement, and fewer households having kids, this movement is rephrasing old questions about a woman and a man's right to choose. doclink

Germany: Childless Couple Told to Try Sex

   May 25, 2004, Ananova

A German couple went to a fertility clinic after 8 years of marriage and found they are childless because they weren't having sex. Doctors found they were both fertile, and should have had no trouble conceiving. When asked how often they had had sex, they said: 'What do you mean?'" They were brought up in a religious environment and were unaware of the physical requirements necessary to procreate. doclink

U.S.: The Only Child Stigma is Fading; More Families Are Opting to Have Just One

   May 15, 2005, Houston Chronicle

For generations, only children and their parents have gotten a bad rap. But research suggests only children tend to be higher achievers, they get along with their peers, they aren't spoiled or lonely or aloof. From 2003, about 20% of U.S. children under 18 had no siblings at home. The country's birth rate has been deflating since 1960. A greater proportion of women have their first children at later ages. With couples delaying marriage and childbirth and mothers remaining in the workforce, single-child families are becoming more common. doclink

Infertility in Europe May Double

   June 21, 2005, UPI

Infertility could double in Europe over the next decade, with obesity and sex infections adding to the problem. One in seven couples has trouble conceiving, but this could rise to one in three. Women should be offered career breaks so they could have children younger, when they are more fertile and the rise in obesity is contributing to infertility. The rise in sexually transmitted infections was likely to mean more teenage girls would suffer from blocked fallopian tubes and when these young women want to become mothers, they find they can't conceive. Both the quality and quantity of sperm appeared to be in decline. The sustainability of the population of Europe is at risk because there are too few children being born. doclink

If women wait until 35 then perhaps they are not highly motivated to have children. There are plenty being born elsewhere and Europe's lifestyle is not sustainable.

Meet the Women Who Won't Have Babies - Because They're Not Eco Friendly

   November 21, 2007, Daily Mail

When Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

At 27 this young woman was sterilised to "protect the planet".

Her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card.

Toni says "Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet. Every person uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

Nothing in Toni's upbringing gave any clues as to the views which would shape her adult life. "No sooner had we finished our wedding cake than all our relatives started to ask when they could expect a new addition to the family.

"When I was a child, I developed a passion for the environment - I became a vegetarian when I was 15. The only person who understood how I felt was my first husband, who didn't want children either. We both wanted to save the planet - not add to the problem."

"I'd been on the Pill for five years and didn't want to take hormone-based contraception indefinitely.

"My GP said I was far too young to be sterilised, and that I was bound to change my mind one day.

"We decided my husband would have a vasectomy instead. He was 25, but the GP allowed him to go ahead.

"I found it insulting that she thought that, just because I was a woman, I'd reach a point where an urge to breed would overcome all rational thought."

"Through my job I made many friends who, like me, were more interested in trying to change society and save the planet rather than having families of our own.

"We used to say that if ever we did want children, we'd adopt, as there are so many children in need of a loving family.

But when she was 25, she discovered that despite taking the Pill, she had fallen pregnant by her boyfriend.

"I went to my doctor about having a termination, and asked if I could be sterilised at the same time.

"This time it was a male doctor. He said: 'You may not want a child, but one day you may meet a man who does'. He refused to consider it.

"After my abortion, I was more determined than ever to pursue sterilisation. I had my mother's support - she realised I wasn't going to grow out of my beliefs.

At 27, Toni moved to Brighton, where her dream of medical intervention was realised.

As Toni awaited the surgery which would destroy her fertility, she met her future husband, Ed, 38. "I liked him immediately, and I told him what I was doing because if he wanted children then he needed to know I wasn't the woman for him."

"But Ed didn't want children for the same reasons."

Ed and I married in September 2002, and have a much nicer lifestyle as a result of not having children.

"My only frustration is that other people are unable to accept my decision.

"What I consider mad are those women who ferry their children short distances in gas-guzzling cars." doclink

Karen Gaia says: I am not advocating that everyone remain childless. There are some people that want zero children, and some that want three. It all works out when women have choices and education.

9 Silly Things People Say When They Hear You Don't Want Kids (and Ways to Counter Them)

   November 10, 2009, Alternet

This is a cute article which is best to read the whole thing. Follow the link in the headline if interested. doclink

U.S.: How Green Are the 'Childless by Choice'?

   May 17, 2010, Grist online magazine

Follow the headline link for an interview with author of the book "Two Is Enough", Laura S. Scott, who has surveyed and interviewed more than 170 people for her Childless by Choice Project. "I'm keenly interested in the process of decision-making," she says. "How do we get from assuming parenthood for ourselves to the point where we're saying, 'No kids, thank you!'?" doclink

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Ancient Alternatives

India: Birth Control Goes Herbal

   September 28, 2003, London Sunday Telegraph

Indian scientists are developing the first effective and safe herbal contraceptive pill from a 2,500-year-old medical text. The ingredients are false pepper (embelia ribes) and long pepper (piper longum) mixed with borax. It is to undergo trials on humans, and could be on the market in two to three years. In the ancient world, Europeans used herbal contraceptives. One, a plant, silphium, was over-harvested and became extinct. In its modern form, the herbal contraceptive (pippalyadi yoga) would be taken as a daily pill for three weeks each month to inhibit ovulation. Dozens of plants are mentioned in India's ancient medical texts as preventing pregnancy, including Chinese hibiscus (hibiscus rosa sinensis), a small tree native to southern India. Developing an effective and safe herbal female contraceptive would be a coup for India. With a population in excess of one billion, only 2% of females use the modern contraceptive pill. No natural birth-control products have met the standards in clinical trials and herbal products can also have harmful side-effects. Chinese scientists developed a male contraceptive pill based on the seed of the cotton plant, trials showed it lowered men's sperm but also diminished libido. doclink

Canada: Museum Puts Contraception on Display

   December 5, 2004, The Plain Dealer

The History of Contraception Museum is the latest addition to the Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University. In ancient Egypt, crocodile dung was employed as a suppository before intercourse. Beaver-testicle tea was brewed by Canadian women. The collection includes some 350 intrauterine devices. The items were largely donated by medical professionals and family planning services. Dittrick is a museum and library dedicated to medical history. James Edmonson, Dittrick's chief curator, said the History of Contraception Museum "embodies social history, ethical issues, medical concerns and womens' issues. The collection also has 150 reference books. The collection shows that people have been imagining means of conception for more than 2,000 years. doclink

Mule's Earwax Just Part of New Case Collection; History of Contraception Has More Than 650 Items

   December 7, 2004, Plain Dealer

The History of Contraception Museum, at Case Western Reserve University presents the only collection of its kind in the world, representing the practices and products to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Exhibits go back to ancient Egypt where crocodile dung was employed as a suppository prior to intercourse, and the first-ever prescriptions for a contraceptive device (a medicated tampon). Folklore preventatives include beaver-testicle tea, weasel testicles tied to a woman's thigh, and elephant dung. There are displays of intrauterine devices and cervical caps. Condoms stretch from artistic to desperate (candy bar wrappers), not far from the corked, tubed and rubber-balled douches. The items were largely donated by medical professionals and family-planning services, or are re-creations of devices such as the amulet of mule's earwax. The Museum embodies social history, ethical issues, medical concerns and women's issues. People have been trying to devise ways to prevent conception for more than 2,000 years and transcends religions and cultures. doclink

India: Birth Control Goes Herbal

   September 28, 2003, London Sunday Telegraph

Indian scientists are developing the first effective and safe herbal contraceptive pill from a 2,500-year-old medical text. The ingredients are false pepper (embelia ribes) and long pepper (piper longum) mixed with borax. It is to undergo trials on humans, and could be on the market in two to three years. In the ancient world, Europeans used herbal contraceptives. One, a plant, silphium, was over-harvested and became extinct. In its modern form, the herbal contraceptive (pippalyadi yoga) would be taken as a daily pill for three weeks each month to inhibit ovulation. Dozens of plants are mentioned in India's ancient medical texts as preventing pregnancy, including Chinese hibiscus (hibiscus rosa sinensis), a small tree native to southern India. Developing an effective and safe herbal female contraceptive would be a coup for India. With a population in excess of one billion, only 2% of females use the modern contraceptive pill. No natural birth-control products have met the standards in clinical trials and herbal products can also have harmful side-effects. Chinese scientists developed a male contraceptive pill based on the seed of the cotton plant, trials showed it lowered men's sperm but also diminished libido. doclink

The Awkward History of Americans Talking About Contraception

   August 23, 2012, Atlantic Monthly

The ACLU announced that a California school district is being sued by parents and students over its abstinence-only sex education program. Among other affronts to the concept of comprehensive sex education, the program's textbooks do not mention condoms, even in the chapters on protecting oneself from STIs and unintended pregnancy.

Manufacturers, health officials, and the public have found numerous ways to talk about contraception without really having to talk about it. Condoms were marketed as "sheaths, skins, shields, capotes, and 'rubber goods' for the 'gents.' Many companies emphasized testosterone-fueled virility with names like Spartans or Trojans.

In 1873 the Comstock Act criminalized any and all forms of contraception and euphemisms became a legal necessity. But by World War I, because of an emerging knowledge of communicable disease, particularly venereal disease, condoms began to build their reputation as prophylactics -- and that form of contraception became understood as a public health issue. That was the point where "protection," "safety," and other words with health implications became common.

The term "birth control" entered the lexicon in 1914, when it was coined by Margaret Sanger, a controversial hero in the field of reproductive rights. By "birth control," Sanger meant to put words to the idea of "voluntary, conscious control of the birth rate by means that prevent conception."

Although the health of women and children were also a priority, a lot of what Sanger and her followers were talking about when they referred to "birth control" is deeply disturbing by today's standards: they believed that certain populations -- specifically minorities and the poor -- should be kept from proliferating. Considering its strong eugenic undertones, it's surprising that the term is still so widely used.

On the upside, the introduction of the idea of birth control heralded a new era of talking openly about contraception. In a 1923 editorial for the New York Times, Sanger praised a bill that would allow doctors to discuss contraception with their patients:

In the 1940s, Planned Parenthood introduced the term "family planning" as a less radical way of talking about birth control. Turned intimate, the new discourse concerned a woman's right to sexual expression and to control over her body. In 1971 the Boston Women's Health Collective published When Our Bodies, Ourselves, with this in its preface:

"This knowledge has freed many of us from the constant energy-draining anxiety about becoming pregnant. It has made our pregnancies better because they no longer happen to us, but we actively choose them and enthusiastically participate in them. It has made our parenthood better because it is our choice rather than our destiny. This knowledge has freed us from playing the role of mother if it is not a role that fits us. It has given us a sense of a larger life space to work in, an invigorating and challenging sense of time and room to discover the energies and talents that are in us, to do the work we want to do. And one of the things we most want to do is to help make this freedom of choice, this life span, available to every woman."

In 1965, the Supreme Court made contraception legal for married couples; in 1972, it made access possible for single people as well. Women's health had taken on new meaning in 1960, when the pharmaceutical product was approved by the FDA as a form of oral birth control. By 20 years after it was first developed, 30 million women worldwide, including 10 million in the U.S., were on the Pill, allowing it to become a way of life.

As of last year, birth control is considered preventive care, required by Department of Health and Human Services to be covered by private insurers. And the U.S. government characterizes its family planning services, aided by Title X, as "educational, comprehensive medical or social activities which enable individuals, including minors, to determine freely the number and spacing of their children and to select the means by which this may be achieved." doclink

Karen Gaia says: the claim that Sanger "believed that certain populations -- specifically minorities and the poor -- should be kept from proliferating" is disputed by Planned Parenthood. The term 'birth control' is familiar to couples who used it in the 1960s and beyond as a synonym for contraception. There was never any understanding that eugenics was involved, considering the huge benefits contraception gave to women: education, ability to have a career, more leisure time, healthier families - few women would want to do without.


Company Won't Resume Norplant Sales

   August 5, 2002, Nando Times

Norplant, a device worn under the skin of the arm that releases contraceptive hormones for five years, and used by 100,000 women at one point, was pulled by Wyeth pharmaceutical two years ago amid concerns that some lots might not be effective. Now, even though tests have shown that the lots in question were working as intended, the pharmaceutical company has decided not to resume sales. A limited supply of some ingredients is the official reason, but some observers point to the lawsuits from women injured having Norplant removed or disturbed by side effects such as irregular spotting and bleeding, which experts explain by reporting doctors failed to explain side effects in advance. The product is still sold by another company in about 30 countries. The federal Department of Health and Human Services' latest survey on birth control methods ranked Norplant the most effective. Norplant was developed for the Population Council who has since developed and obtain FDA approval for a more comfortable successor product with only two rods called Jadelle. Never distributed in the U.S., Jadelle is sold or distributed by aid programs in four East African countries, Indonesia, Thailand and Finland. Wyeth may begin selling Jadelle in this country and has refined the insertion device to make it more comfortable. doclink

Janesway - a Woman's Condom Built into a Panty

   August 24, 2002, Janesway

Sent: 24 Aug 2002 Can you help? From: Craig Daniels ( To: Dear Karen and WOA, Dear WOA, There's a break-through contraception concept which has been stymied by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the non-social purposes of investment/venture capital for over 20 years. I believe that WOA could end up with a good ownership position on (what will become) a major pharmaceutical item for a small investm... doclink

Diaphragm Put to Test Against HIV; Gates Foundation Helps UCSF Researcher Evaluate Birth-control Device in Africa

   August 28, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle

HIV infections in southern Africa could be reduced by at least 33% if women used diaphrams and male HIV infections could be reduced by at least 50% by the use of male circumcision - researchers hope to substantiate this using a grant of $28 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. UCSF researcher Nancy Padian's study will enroll 4,500 women in Zimbabwe and South Africa to test the simple latex diaphragm used for birth control. Many women in Zimbabwe cannot get their partners to wear condoms. Dr. Jay Levy of UCSF said "I felt certain that if you could block virus-infected cells from the cervix, you could reduce transmission dramatically." Padian called the cervix a "hot spot" of susceptibility to HIV infection. The diaphragm's protection of the cervix also blocks diseases such as syphilis, which causes lesions that serve as gateways into the bloodstream for HIV. Women will often be able to use the diaphram without their sexual partner's knowledge, providing "female-controlled" barrier to HIV. The diaphragm costs about $25. In addition, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health will study male circumcision in Uganda, which can be performed for about $4.50. The male foreskin has up to six times the number of HIV-susceptible cells as the female cervix, studies have shown. Another part of the grant will go to the Eastern Virginia Medical School's Contraceptive Research and Development Program to test the effectiveness of microbicides that also would work as contraceptives. doclink

U.K.: Pregnancy 'Patch' on the Way

   September 2002, Push newsfeed

The contraceptive patch, the newest form of birth control, is used more consistently than other methods, reports the Journal of the American Medical Association. It will be available within a year to women in the U.K. Each patch works for a week. Women are given three to wear consecutively, with a patch-free week for the fourth week. doclink

Zimbabwe; Women Reusing Female Condom, Despite Risks

   September 30, 2002, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

The female condom in Zimbabwe costs 10-50 times more than a male condom, at US $1-$5, so women, including sex workers, are cleaning them with beer, urine, water and detergent and are re-using them, ignorant of the risks. The female condom is not as available, mostly at pharmacies only. Women's Action Group (WAG) director, Edinah Masiyiwa, called for the cost of the female condom to be subsidised. "Why should we even debate about reuse? The government should subsidise it. Recognising the urgent need for risk-reduction strategies for women who cannot or do not access new condoms, a draft protocol is being developed for safe handling and preparation of female condoms intended for reuse. doclink

After Long Hiatus, New Contraceptives Emerge

   December 2002, The New York Times

An assortment of new birth control methods is emerging, all directed at women. The reasons for a lack of variety in birth control includes the time to develop any new product and a Puritanical culture. Current contraceptives were influenced by Norplant. Women did not get the counseling about side effects that led a lot of women to request removal. Norplant was recalled from concerns that some lots were defective although a news release stated that they had tested Ok. The makers of a new implant (Implanon) hope to capture the market. It uses progestin, and is intended to be removed after three years for optimal spacing between children. The manufacturer is planning training for doctors to avoid the problems of Norplant. Sterilization is the leading method of birth control, and Essure is the first method for women that can be performed without general anesthesia. The doctor releases a small metal spring into each fallopian tube via a catheter. They stimulate scar tissue and block the flow of eggs. The Mirena IUD is reversible and lasts five years. It emits progestin that thickens the cervical mucus, making it impenetrable to sperm. Pills are the most popular form of reversible birth control and similar combinations of estrogen and progestin in other forms are catching on. A skin patch worn three weeks a month that can be changed by the user is already the second most popular form of non-oral birth control, behind Depo-Provera, the shot given once every three months. Lunelle Monthly Contraceptive Injection was recalled because of an underfilled syringe. An alternative is a vaginal ring called NuvaRing, which delivers hormones through the skin. The steady delivery of hormones by the new alternatives, is more effective than the hormonal spike from birth control pills. High-dose pills, Preven and Plan B, offer backup for women who have had unprotected sex. California, Washington and Alaska allow pharmacists to provide them without a prescription. The trend to methods of contraception which offer no protection against diseases, is a cause for concern. A cervical cap by Yama Inc., available through doctors, can be washed and reused for about a year. It completely covers the cervix and may offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases but has yet to be proved. doclink

Quest for Male 'Pill' is Gaining Momentum

   December 10, 2002, The New York Times

By giving a male hormone it is possible to trick the body into halting production of its own sperm cells. Finding the effective dose and limiting side effects have been delayed by skepticism that men will use a hormonal contraceptive. Efforts to develop a male contraceptive are gaining momentum. In one study, 1,000 men are receiving monthly testosterone injections. Once their sperm counts drop low enough, they begin having unprotected sex. The side effects include acne and weight gain. Long-term effects are unknown. Another study involves 400 men in Asia, Europe, Australia and the United States. The men will receive testosterone with progestin which seems to lower the dose and temper its effects on the prostate. Another company, is conducting a study combining testosterone with progestin implants. Another is examining the effects of an androgen derivative called MENT, that is 10 times as active as testosterone without over-stimulating the prostate. Schering AG is experimenting with MENT as hormone therapy for men with low levels of testosterone. Fertile women produce a single egg a month but men produce tens of millions of sperm every day. It takes 75 days for sperm cells to become capable of fertilizing an egg so any contraceptive aimed at sperm needs two and a half months to work. Chinese scientists thought they had an answer with gossypol, the derived from cottonseed oil. The gossypol pills suppressed fertility by damaging the testes but it caused irreversible infertility in some men and was then tried as a vaginal cream. That was effective but failed in the market because the compound caused intense color stained bed sheets. doclink

Male Contraceptive Found by Accident

   December 9, 2002, United Press International

A drug approved to treat a rare genetic disorder may work as a birth control pill for men. This compound has been through all the toxicology studies and it would not take long to go through development. The drugs closest to market in the U.S. and Europe stop sperm production by blocking testosterone. However there are side effects of weight gain and mood changes and most need to be injected or given as implants. The medicine was approved in Europe to treat a rare disorder in which the body cannot break down sugary fats. The "glycolipids" build up in the liver, spleen and at times brain for potentially fatal results. NB-DNJ hampers the biochemicals that add sugar to these fats. Drug-treated mice did not reproduce. After three weeks on the drug male mice were infertile with no effect on sexual behavior or hormone levels. The sperm of mice treated with the drug had abnormally shaped nuclei but it had no effect on female fertility. The contraceptive effect was reversed four weeks after males were taken off the sugar mimic. The only side effect is diarrhea, since the drug inhibits sugar-sensitive proteins in the bowels. The researchers do not yet understand how NB- DNJ affects sperm formation. doclink

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