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Best Birth Control News

Decade 2000-2009


Updated December 31, 2009

The 2000-2009 decade saw its share of birth control news. During this decade, several significant and new forms of birth control were made available as well as the morning-after pill for emergency contraception. There were changes in pregnancy rates and abortion. The election of President Obama was a victory for women’s reproductive health. So, I offer you my "Top 15" list of significant contraception events (both positive and negative) occurring during the 2000-2009 decade. Here is my take on the best birth control news (in no particular order):

1. The 2008 Presidential Campaign and Election of President Barack Obama

Photo © David Lienemann/Getty Images

We were warned about the quiet campaign against birth control that was sweeping the nation.

Obama was elected on 11/4/08 and was sworn into office on 1/20/09. Three days later, on the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Obama affirmed his support for a woman's right to choose, declaring that Roe v. Wade:
"Not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters."

He also reversed the Mexico City policy, or global gag rule, that prohibited U.S. money from funding international family-planning clinics that promote abortion or provide counseling or referrals about abortion services.

2. Meet Mirena, the New IUD

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey

The "rebirth of the IUD" – unfortunately, IUD popularity was quite low due to a lot of misinformation about its use. But, with the FDA approval of a new IUD, Mirena, in December 2000, women in the US were offered a new birth control option.

Mirena is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device made of flexible plastic. It must be inserted by a qualified health-care professional. Mirena continuously releases a low amount of the progestin, levonorgestrel, over a 5-year period as a way to prevent pregnancy. It is 99.9% effective – one of the most effective contraceptive options available. Ever since Mirena’s availability on 2/15/01, women have been enjoying the freedom of using this long-term, convenient and hassle-free birth control option.

3. Teen Pregnancy Rates Rise

Photo Courtesy of Geoff Manasse/Getty Images

In 2007, the CDC released its Prevention Teen Pregnancy Report reporting that teen pregnancy rates have risen for the first time in 14 years. Also that year, the New York Times reported that there are now significantly more newly infected people with HIV in the US (these new estimates may reach almost 50% higher than previously thought).

In 2008, a CDC federal study revealed that 1 in 4 teenage American girls has a STD. Then, data from the CDC's 4/17/09 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed that many teens in the US engage in risky sexual behavior. Increases in teen births, AIDS infections and other STDs show that progress in teen sexual health slowed over the decade leaving researchers concerned over the sexual health of US teens.

4. NuvaRing is Introduced

Photo Courtesy of Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

On October 3, 2001, the FDA approved the NuvaRing. This comfortable, flexible contraceptive ring was marketed in the US on July 16, 2002. Women were now offered a new type of reversible prescription birth control. The NuvaRing is a great alternative to birth control pills. It's just as effective as the pill, but women don’t need to worry about taking pills each day.

The 2-inch in diameter NuvaRing is inserted it into the vagina once a month and left it in place for 3 weeks. It's then removed for the remaining week. The ring secretes estrogen and etonogestrel (a progestin) and protects against pregnancy for one month. Women are loving the convenience of this method and fewer hormonal ups and downs (due to its low and steady hormone delivery).

5. Economic Recession Affects Sex & Family Planning

Photo © 2009 Dawn Stacey

The economic recession began in late 2007, yet 2009 saw the reality of how the recession affected the American bedroom. Experts called this "the season for family planning" as couples used extra birth control and took extreme measures to not get pregnant.

The intriguing twist: the recession isn’t stopping people from having sex, it actually created a rise in birth control sales. Trends include:

  • Dollar sales of OTC products were up 10.2% for the first two months of 2009
  • 6.4% more condoms were sold in the first three months of 2009
  • Dramatic increases (48%-75%) in the number of vasectomies being performed
The Message: You don’t need to be an economist to figure out this simple math - stay home, save money and have sex (just don’t make a baby).

6. Controversy Over Plan B (The Morning After Pill)

Photo © Dawn Stacey 2009

The emergency contraceptive, Plan B, suffered a troubled fate throughout the decade that included a long and EXTREMELY confusing history between the FDA and EC, full of court orders and political scandal.

  • The FDA first approved Plan B as the first progestin-only EC available in the US on 7/28/99
  • The FDA voted for Plan B to be sold OTC in 2003, but it wasn’t until 8/24/06 that the FDA approved the sale of Plan B OTC to those 18 and older
  • Plan B became available OTC in November 2006
  • FDA announced that 17-year-olds can buy Plan B OTC on 4/22/09
  • September 2009, now marketed as Plan B One-Step, becomes available at pharmacies nationwide

Though the concept of EC is not new, it still ignites many debates just as it did when first introduced in the US.

7. The Today Sponge's Disappearance & Comeback

Photo Used with Permission from Mayer Laboratories, Inc

The Today Sponge was first introduced in 1983. The sponge was voluntarily taken off store shelves in 1995 – an event gaining national attention on the sitcom Seinfeld when Jerry's friend Elaine began to hoard these devices and weighed the "sponge-worthiness" of potential lovers to decide if sleeping with them was worth giving up one of her coveted sponges!

  • The Today Sponge, under a new manufacturer, was re-introduced in Canada in March 2003
  • It was then sold in the U.S. in September 2005
  • But, the sponge was taken off the market again in 2007 as its manufacturer filed for bankruptcy
  • Mayer Labs acquired the sponge in 2008
  • In May 2009, the Today Sponge was re-launched in stores across the US and online, making sponge-worthiness no longer a factor!

8. Definitive Research Studies Confirm Abstinence-Only Sex Education DO NOT Work

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Online

A national study by Mathematica Policy Research concludes that abstinence-only sex education doesn't keep teens from having sex; and if they choose to have sex, these programs don't affect the likelihood that teens will use a condom.

Also in 2007, Dr. Douglas Kirby, a leading researcher in adolescent health, released a study investigating both abstinence-only and full sex education programs. Results showed the only programs that resulted in delayed sexual onset were comprehensive sex ed programs (those that discuss both abstinence and contraception). The study states "there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners."

9. The Abortion Pill Becomes Available

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

RU486, also known as Milfeprex or the Abortion Pill, gained FDA-approval on September 28, 2000. Until then, it had been widely, effectively and safely used in France, Sweden and Great Britain for years. The abortion pill (considered a medical abortion) is usually used in conjunction with misoprostol and should be provided by a doctor though some women are now buying it online.

RU486 is FDA-approved for women up to 7 weeks pregnant (5 weeks since conception) or up to 49 days after one's last menstrual period. It helps to terminate a pregnancy (allowing a woman to completely pass the pregnancy) without surgery and is 92 to 98% effective when used in combination with misoprostol. When Mifepristone is used alone, it is only 64 to 85% effective.

10. Drastic Results Across College Campuses

Photo © Dawn Stacey 2007

Birth control costs on college campuses skyrocketed due to the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 signed into law by former President Bush in 2006. The DRA put a limit on the price exemptions that allowed college health centers to offer discounted hormonal birth control prices. These centers finally felt the wrath of this bill in 2007 when many ran out of their reduced-rate stock and were forced to increase prices to cover the new inflated costs.

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