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Experts call for new contraceptive methods

Wednesday October 22nd, 2014

More options are needed to help protect women against unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, experts say today.

Women's health leaders from the World Health Organisation outline the need for new technologies beyond the currently available male and female condoms.

Writing in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the experts call for greater investment in the development of new technologies.

Although investment in women's sexual and reproductive health has led to fewer unintended pregnancies, maternal and newborn deaths and healthier mothers and children, they point out that levels of unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections remain high.

About 80 million unintended pregnancies occur each year in the developing world because of lack of reliable contraception, they say. Many of these are among girls under the age of 16, who have a high risk of premature labour, miscarriage, stillbirth, and death from pregnancy-related causes.

Dr Heather Boonstra, of the Guttmacher Institute, Washington, USA, says: "The evidence strongly indicates that providing women with effective new tools to simultaneously prevent unwanted pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections and HIV is essential. However, just developing these methods is not enough. They need to be designed and marketed in a way that meets the needs and respects the rights of women and their partners."

New "Multipurpose Prevention Technologies" must adequately address concerns that cause many women to reject other modern contraceptive methods, believes Dr Boonstra.

"Any successful strategy must also acknowledge that women's needs change over time, and a suite of options may be needed to provide women with choices," she adds.

Boonstra, H. et al. Making the case for multipurpose prevention technologies: the socio-epidemiological rationale. BJOG 22 October 2014; doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.12851 [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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