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A Classic Contraceptive Gets the Mad Men Treatment
Since breaking up with the pill, I've made do with the NuvaRing and then condoms, but I've been keeping my eyes open for a better long-term plan. That's one of the reasons I was inspired to weigh the pros and cons of the most popular birth control in the US for this slideshow. There are a few new contraceptive developments that piqued my interest. Any Seinfeld fan who's never really understood Elaine's passion for the Today sponge can now find out what all the hoopla was about, as the sponge is back and available at retailers like Walgreens, CVS and Target. For those looking for something more effective and longer-lasting, IUDs like ParaGard and Mirena have been redesigned, and among health researchers and gynecologists, they're the new "it" contraceptive. However, the device that has me the most excited is a different birth control blast-from-the-past.
I've always been curious about the diaphragm, which I've associated with first-wave feminists, worldly maiden aunts and Judy Blume heroines. I liked the fact that it didn't involve hormones, but felt turned-off by the idea of getting "fitted" at the doctor's office, as well as by the awkward-sounding insertion process.
Then I heard about a new user-friendlier, one-size-fits-most diaphragm that's currently in the works by an international health non-profit called PATH. Their mission was to improve choices in barrier protection for under-served women in third world countries, but their idea for a twenty-first century update to the retro diaphragm makes sense for all women who feel under-served by the available contraceptive options. Development of the SILCS diaphragm, named for one of PATH's partners, began in 1994, and involved asking women to evaluate over 200 prototypes. The winning design has grips to make it less slippery, a spring that helps it fold up easily, and a finger notch to aid in removal. I also appreciate the sleek design that reminds me of a piece of modernist furniture. The only problem is that this retro-cool design isn't yet approved by the FDA. While PATH says that it plans to join its research and commercialization partners in submitting an application to the FDA next year, this timely update of the old-fashioned diaphragm wouldn't be available in the U.S. for at least another year or two (if at all). That's even longer than we'll have to wait for the return of another retro-cool classic: the next season of Mad Men.
Read more: Are you ready for a birth control makeover?
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.