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Three New Birth Control Options

Donna M. Dixon, M.S., R.N., former Human Development and Family Studies Associate, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia


For the first time in many years there are three new options for women for family planning. All three have shown to be nearly 100% effective.

Injectable Birth Control: Lunelle

LunelleŽ is a progesterone and estrogen combination, injectable form of birth control and is now available at your doctor's office or clinic. Lunelle is similar to Depo-Provera. Depo-Provera is given every three months and it can cause significant side effects for some women including weight gain, irregular menstrual bleeding or no bleeding. Though LunelleŽ is to be given monthly (every 28-31 days), it is purported to have many fewer side effects. Its' major disadvantage is that it must be given monthly at a clinic. However, for a woman who has difficulty taking a daily pill, it would be more effective. Another benefit is that it is effective in preventing pregnancy as soon as it is given rather than after 28 days as with the Pill. In addition, the woman or a family member could learn to administer the injection at home. The web site has additional information.

Evra: A Birth Control Patch

The same birth control you've taken by mouth will be available soon as a convenient method of family planning. It is made by Johnson & Johnson and will be called EvraŽ. There is no difference in the medication as compared to the traditional Pill, but rather it is different in the way it is administered. A patch allows for gradual release and needs only to be changed weekly for 3 weeks then is omitted the fourth week so you will have your period. The patch is applied to your abdomen and buttocks or anywhere else where it cannot be seen. The patch is about 2 inches wide. Sometimes the patch falls off before the seventh day but because the drug is administered continuously all you would need to do is apply another patch. Some women have a mild skin reaction under the patch but not usually enough to stop using it. Additional information is available at

Estrogen Ring

NuvaRing (Organon) is a novel hormonal contraceptive vaginal device. A vaginal ring provides a month-long contraceptive protection like the traditional Pill but you do not have to remember to take a pill each day. Women may insert or remove the ring by pressing the sides of the circle together to gently push it into or remove it from the vagina. In contrast to the diaphragm, the correct positioning of the ring is not critical because NuvaRing is not a barrier contraceptive. The small ring is inserted on or before the fifth day of the menstrual period and designed to release a steady flow of low-dose estrogen for 21 days. Compliance was high in women who tested the ring. The most common problems for women using NuvaRing, were increased vaginal discharge, vaginitis, headache, weight changes, and nausea. Rarely, the ring interfered with intercourse. If that is the case, it may be removed for up to 3 hours. Free samples of NovaRing are available now and will be available by prescription in June, 2002. For more information go to:


Remember none of these new methods protect against HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. The use of combination oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious side effects, including thrombo-embolic diseases. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects. Women who use combination hormonal contraceptives are strongly advised not to smoke.



Last Updated 05/05/2009







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