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Int J Womens Health. 2014 Feb 19;6:221-34. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S46811. eCollection 2014.

New and emerging contraceptives: a state-of-the-art review.

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  • 1Human Reproduction Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Campinas and National Institute of Hormones and Women's Health, Campinas, SP, Brazil.



The first hormonal contraceptive was introduced onto the market in several countries 50 years ago; however, the portfolio of contraceptive methods remains restricted with regards to their steroid composition, their cost, and their ability to satisfy the requirements of millions of women/couples in accordance with their different reproductive intentions, behaviors, cultures, and settings.


A literature review was conducted using Medline, Embase, and Current Contents databases, up to September 1, 2013 to identify publications reporting new contraceptives in development using combinations of the search terms: contraception, contraceptives, oral contraceptives, patch, vaginal ring, implants, intrauterine contraceptives, and emergency contraception (EC). Also, several experts in the field were also consulted to document ongoing projects on contraception development. Additionally, the website was searched for ongoing studies on existing contraceptive methods and new and emerging female contraceptives developed over the past 5 years. Information was also obtained from the pharmaceutical industry.


Early sexual debut and late menopause means that women may require contraception for up to 30 years. Although oral, injectable, vaginal, transdermal, subdermal, and intrauterine contraceptives are already available, new contraceptives have been developed in an attempt to reduce side effects and avoid early discontinuation, and to fulfill women's different requirements. Research efforts are focused on replacing ethinyl-estradiol with natural estradiol to reduce thrombotic events. In addition, new, less androgenic progestins are being introduced and selective progesterone receptor modulators and new delivery systems are being used. In addition, research is being conducted into methods that offer dual protection (contraception and protection against human immunodeficiency virus transmission), and contraceptives for use "on demand." Studies are also investigating non-hormonal contraceptive methods that have additional, non-contraceptive benefits.


The most pressing need worldwide is, first, that the highly effective contraceptive methods already available should be affordable to most of the population and also that these methods should fulfill the needs of women of different ages and with different reproductive requirements. The development of new contraceptive methods should also take advantage of the knowledge obtained over the past 30 years on gamete physiology and gamete interaction to avoid the use of steroid compounds.


emergency contraceptives; emerging contraceptives; intrauterine devices; patch; spray; vaginal ring

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