Research updates
2. New methods of contraception   page 1
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1. Introduction Link to the Medical Research Council web site
 
 
Effective methods of contraception are essential for reproductive health. An international network has been set up to develop new methods of contraception and – equally important – provide evidence on their acceptability in different cultures. The methods under investigation include a male hormonal pill and a new form of female pill using antigestagens. A once-a-month antigestagen pill is technically possible and would be welcomed by many women from various countries and cultures.
 
Figure 1. Professor Baird: ‘While much can be done by providing better access to existing methods of contraception in some countries, in others fear of side-effects or scarcity of suitable methods leads to one-third of conceptions being unplanned. The development of new methods of contraception would provide more contraceptive choices for both men and women.

 

 

The MRC Human Reproductive Sciences Unit continues fundamental research to improve understanding of male fertility. In the long term this may lead to new approaches to contraception.
Background
Professor David Baird directs the Contraceptive Development Network (CDN) which is jointly funded by the Medical Research Council and the Department for International Development. The co-ordinating centre for the Network is at the Centre for Reproductive Biology at the University of Edinburgh.
After establishing the overseas links, the CDN’ s first objective was to assess how acceptable new methods of contraception would be within the differing cultures of the centres. Carefully structured questionnaires were used to examine attitudes.

The surveys highlighted the cultural differences in attitudes to contraception which influence whether a new method will gain acceptance in different countries. They also emphasised the need to expand the range of contraceptive methods available to men.

Rising levels
The world’s population over the next 50 years or so will depend to a large extent on what range of contraceptive methods are available to both men and women.
Figure 2. Effect of contraception on developing country population growth
 
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Question 1

Why should it matter that the world's population be kept in check?