New Methods

A new generation of contraceptive methods is on the horizon that will increase the number of options for pregnancy prevention. Not all of these methods are available yet, but we'll give you a brief description and links to learn more so that you can be informed before they hit the market.

Brown students can make an appointment to talk with a medical provider at Health Services, by calling 401.863-3953, to see if one of these methods could be an option for you.

Seasonal Birth Control Pills

Seasonique, is one example of a newer birth control pill which is packaged as a "seasonal" supply. The method is similar to other birth control pills in that it is 99% effective when taken as directed, uses the same type of hormones, is a once-daily pill, and has similar side effects. What makes Seasonique, and other similar pills like Seasonale, different from other birth control pills is that they have 3 months of active pills, instead of 3 weeks. This extends the time between your scheduled periods and means that you have only 4 periods per year. If you are taking these pills, you are likely to experience breakthrough bleeding or spotting. This method is available by prescription at University Health Services.   

Extra-Low-Dose Birth Control Pills

There are a wide range of very low dose birth control pils available. As with all hormonal methods, you increase your risk of heart attacks and blood clots. Low dose birth control pills are available by prescription at Health Services.

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The Contraceptive Sponge

The Today Sponge is has returned to the market after receiving approval from the FDA. The sponge can be inserted hours before a woman has intercourse and remain in her body for up to 24 hours. It also contains spermicides that may offer some protection against STIs and is 72% to 84% effective at preventing pregnancy, depending on whether you have had children or not. The sponge can be purchased at the Health Services Pharmacy.  

Vaginal Ring

NuvaRing is a new hormonal method that is a flexible plastic ring which is inserted in the vagina and left in place for 3 weeks. The ring emits progestin and estrogen and is about 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Inserting the aring correctly and checking that it remains in place will be a key factor in ensuring its effectiveness. Because it is a hormonal method, it has similar risks to those associated with birth control pills. Talk to your medical provider if you're interested in trying this method. It is available at Health Services.  

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Hormonal IUDs

Mirena is a newer hormonal IUD. The advantage is that Mirena also emits the hormone progestin as an extra level of contraceptive protection. IUDs offer a high level of protection (approximately 99%). The Mirena IUD costs about $350 to $400, plus the cost of insertion, but can then be left in place for up to 5 years. Although it is not available at Health Services, a medical provider can give you a referral to a site where it is available.  

Single Rod Implant

Implanon, is a single rod hormonal implant method that replaced Norplant, a multiple rod implant which is no longer available in the U.S. Implanon is a thin, flexible plastic implant about the size of a matchstick, which contains the synthetic hormone progestin. Inserted under your upper arm, it can be left in place for up to 3 years. A woman won't be able to see the rod, unless she is very thin, but she can feel it with her fingers. Researchers estimate that Implanon will be up to 99.9% effective for up to 3 years. Irregular bleeding is the most common side effect. Periods become fewer and lighter for most women and, in time, may stop altogether. Some women will have longer and heavier periods and some may have increased irregular or breakthrough bleeding. Implanon costs about $600, plus the cost of insertion. Implanon is not currently available at Health Services, but a medical provider can give you a referral to a site where it is available.

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Male contraceptives

The development of contraceptive methods for men poses a different challenge because men are continuously producing sperm and therefore are continuously fertile, unlike women who have a limited number of fertile days each month. The current research is focused on developing contraceptive injections, implants, or vaccines that will reduce a male's sperm count low enough to levels unlikely to cause pregnancy, but without damaging lifetime sperm production. Tests are currently being conducted overseas and the information in this field will continue to be expanded.

Links you can use

For more information about the future of birth control options for both women and men, you can visit:

Planned Parenthood

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Disclaimer: BWell Health Promiotion is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Promotion maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Promotion offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.