1. Annovera—a new birth control ring
Approved in 2018 and now widely available, Annovera is a soft, flexible silicone ring, roughly 2 inches in diameter. Just like the monthly ring (NuvaRing) Annovera is in the vagina for three weeks then out for one, but with Annovera you insert the same ring each month instead of getting a new one. And it’s one of the lowest estrogen dose methods available and the new non-androgenic progestin it contains means fewer changes in lipid profile, acne, and weight gain. Check out Bedsider for more information for your patients on how to get and use Annovera.
2. Caya—the one-size-fits-(almost)-all diaphragm
Available in the US since 2015, Caya is a silicone, one-size-fits-(almost)-all diaphragm. That means that while you’ll still need to write a prescription, there is no sizing required. Like other diaphragms, Caya still needs to be used with spermicide, but it can be paired with other methods as well to increase effectiveness (and patient satisfaction!). Patients can now get Caya after a telehealth visit and have it delivered to their door.
3. Extended use of the implant and IUDs
If it seems like every year, there is a new study coming out and new evidence supporting extended use of the implant and hormonal IUDs that’s because there is. There is now strong evidence to support using a levonorgestrel-containing IUDs (LNG-IUD) with 52mg of LNG (Mirena or Liletta) for eight years and the etonogestrel implant (Nexplanon) for five years. The IUD studies are continuing, so stay tuned for more on LNG 52mg IUDs next year. And we’ve got all the details on how long IUDs and implants are effective and how to talk to your patients about extended use, including a handy comparison chart.
4. Twirla—a new lower-dose birth control patch
Approved in 2020 and now widely available, Twirla is a new lower dose birth control patch. Twirla is a thin, beige, circular patch that contains a daily dose of 30 mcg of ethinyl estradiol and 120 mcg of levonorgestrel, making it the lowest dose estrogen patch available. Twirla is used in the same way as other birth control patches (a new patch each week for three weeks in a row and then a patch-free week), but it’s less effective for people with a BMI over 25 and not recommended for people with a BMI over 30. For more information for your patients on how to get and use Twirla, check out Bedsider.
5. Three IUDs can be used as EC—Paragard, Liletta, and Mirena
We’ve long known that a copper IUD is the most effective method of emergency contraception (EC)—preventing pregnancy when placed within five days of unprotected sex. In 2021, exciting new research showed that an LNG 52mg IUD (Liletta and Mirena) is just as good as a copper IUD for EC. That means that you can feel confident placing an LNG 52mg IUD after unprotected sex for EC and ongoing contraception without the need for a backup method.
6. Phexxi—hormone-free, vaginal birth control gel
Approved in 2020, Phexxi is one of the newest methods on the market. Phexxi is a hormone-free gel that comes in a pre-filled applicator, and it’s inserted into the vagina before sex. It works by maintaining the normally acidic pH of the vagina and keeping it inhospitable to sperm and reducing sperm mobility. Learn more about Phexxi, how to use it, and how to help you patients get it.
7. Digital fertility awareness
Fertility awareness-based birth control methods (FABM) have come a long way since the paper calendar and cycles beads. Digital birth control app Natural Cycles was FDA-cleared in 2018 and is available in the app store. Clue Birth Control (from the makers of the period tracking app) was FDA-cleared in 2021 and will be available in the US soon—stay tuned for updates!
8. New birth control pill options—Nextstellis and Slynd
Birth control pills have been around for a long time, but the good news is that they keep getting better! Progestin-only pill Slynd is a great example. Progestin-only pills, a.k.a. mini-pills, typically contain norethindrone or norgestrel and have only a three-hour window to take them, making them more prone to missed pills and decreasing their effectiveness. With Slynd, which uses the progestin drospirenone, a backup method isn’t needed until a pill is 24 hours late, so they are more effective and easier to use than other mini-pills. New combination pill, Nextstellis, also uses drospirenone and combines it with a new estrogen, estetrol, that is found naturally in the body and manufactured from plant sources.
9. New support for DMPA SQ
While depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), brand name Depo-Provera was FDA-approved for subcutaneous (SQ) use back in 2004, the pandemic helped increase awareness and demand for this safe, effective, and easy-to-use option for using the birth control shot. And in 2021, the CDC released a statement supporting the use of DMPA SQ. For more information about how to talk to your patients about DMPA SQ and add it to your practice, we’ve got what you need to know.
10. OTC birth control pills—hopefully coming soon! #FreeThePill
You might already know that over-the-counter (OTC) birth control pills are a safe and effective way for your patients to get the birth control pills they are already taking. ACOG, AAP, and other major professional organizations support birth control pills going OTC for people of all ages. And OPill’s first-ever application for an OTC birth control is currently under review by the FDA. Check out the video and read more from Dr. Raegan, Power to Decide’s CEO, for more about why we are ready to #FreeThePill and have it available in the drugstore next to the condoms and lube, covered by insurance, and accessible to people of all ages.
While you’re fired up about birth control access, check out the Thanks, Birth Control Day 2022 toolkit and join the #ThxBirthControl conversation on social! November 16th is just the kickoff of our year-long celebration of everything birth control makes possible—we can’t wait to celebrate with you!