It’s a woman’s right to choose

Five new methods of birth control explained
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  July 18, 2007

"Patchy problems." By Deirdre Fulton.
"The boys and the bees." By Deirdre Fulton.
Sorry guys, this one’s for the girls.

Or, maybe not. After all, despite the fact that the male birth control pill is still a researcher’s dream (see sidebar, “The Boys and the Bees”), birth control is (or should be) the province of both sexes. There just happens to be a slight imbalance, financially and physiologically: guys have to think about condoms; girls have to weigh many more options, ones that require trips to the doctor, prescriptions, and occasionally, the insertion of foreign objects into our bodies (no pun intended; grow up).

Sex — and attempts to avoid its natural consequences — have been around for rather a while now. In the 20th century, the innovations were both chemical and physical — the intra-uterine device (IUD), the birth-control pill, the diaphragm, the made-famous-by-Seinfeld sponge. Some of these proved popular (the Pill), others caused controversy (the IUD), others faded into oblivion (have you ever met a diaphragm user?). There were flares of innovation along the way, such as the six-rod Norplant implant in the 1990s, or the contraceptive patch, introduced earlier this decade. A lot of improvements were limited to fine-tuning the chemical cocktail that makes up prescription-issue pills, to improve effectiveness and reduce negative side effects for women with different tolerances for hormones involved in the reproductive cycle.

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