Gel-based contraceptive shows promise30th November 2010
A new spermicide, not yet available for purchase, is as good at preventing pregnancy as existing contraceptives, but does not carry the same side effects as nonoxynol-9, according to a recent US study.
The new spermicide is a mixture of compounds, known as C31G.
Lead researcher Anne E. Burke, of The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that there were concerns with nonoxynol-9, such as vaginal side effects and genital irritation.
She said that spermicides were one of the least used contraceptive methods, and that C31G might be an improvement on its predecessor.
She said that some women would probably rather not depend on men's cooperation in birth control, and do not want to have to take hormones, making high-quality spermicide a good choice for such women.
For the study, the researchers randomly assigned over 1,500 women to use either C31G or nonoxynol-9.
All of the women were sexually active, and none of them were told which spermicide they had been given.
The women were requested to have sex at least four times a month in order to qualify for the study.
After six months had elapsed, 12% of the young women were pregnant, and not all of the women had used the spermicide correctly, or used it at all.
When the researchers asked the women about the use of the spermicide products, they were able to filter the results, and came up with a new pregnancy rate of 5% for both products.
Burke said that, for women who might prioritise effective contraception above all else, spermicides might not be the best choice.
She said that the aim of the study was to see whether or not C31G was just as effective as its predecessor, and that the researchers were not interested in seeing if C31G was superior to nonoxynol-9 in terms of effectiveness.
In all, the study subjects who used C31G reported slightly fewer side effects than women who used nonoxynol-9.
Common side effects when using spermicides include irritation, vaginal or urinary tract infections, and menstrual changes.
While researchers who develop spermicides are also interested in fighting sexually-transmitted infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), C31G has not been shown to have any such effect.
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