New addition to contraceptives: a vaginal gel
The FDA approved a vaginal gel for the prevention of pregnancy last month. It contains a combination of lactic acid, citric acid and potassium bitartrate which reduces the vaginal pH to between 3.5 and 4.5, an environment that is not favourable for sperm.
Adverse effects were largely limited to local irritation, with 1.6% of clinical trial participants discontinuing due to adverse reactions. Pregnancy rates were about 23 per 100 women in a year. This product can be used in combination with condoms and diaphragms, but not with vaginal rings.
MIC comment: Whilst the pregnancy rate is still fairly high, this is a useful additional option for women, especially those who are unable to use hormonal methods or to improve efficacy of other barrier methods. See the relative efficacy of various family planning methods here.