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Not all Bad: Rethinking Contraceptive Side Effects

Photo credit: Google Images

Post written by Tishina Okegbe, PhD, MPP, FHI 360

Some method-related side effects are unquestionably undesirable for users. But some methods have often underappreciated non-contraceptive health and lifestyle benefits. Globally, we need to do more to educate healthcare providers, as well as women, men, and youth, about these potential advantages. In addition, researchers and product developers can do more to design products with non-contraceptive attributes that will be acceptable–and even desirable–for users.

Over the next several months, the blog series, entitled: “Not all Bad: Rethinking Contraceptive Side Effects,” will include posts from experts in a number of fields and will explore contraceptive development that turns certain “side effects” (with negative connotations) into positive product attributes or “side benefits.”

In “Exploring Side Benefits of Modern Contraceptive Methods,” FHI 360’s Dr. Tishina Okegbe kicks off the series with a discussion of currently available modern contraceptive methods that offer non-contraceptive health benefits to users. These benefits can include a reduction in menstrual cramps, more regular and lighter menstrual cycles, and a reduced risk of cervical or uterine cancer.

Next, in “User Perspectives on Contraceptive Side Effects and Side Benefits," Dr. Rebecca Callahan of FHI 360 explores characteristics that make modern contraceptives more or less appealing to users.

In “What Do Men Have to Do With It?: Exploring Side Benefits of Male Contraceptive Methods,” Kathryn Carpenter, MPH, from the Male Contraceptive Initiative discusses potential side benefits that male contraceptive methods under development might offer.

Next, Amy Alspaugh, CNM, MSN, of Duke University and University of North Carolina, discusses why it is important for developers and researchers to consider contraceptive needs across a woman’s life cycle in "Contracepting at Midlife: Not Done Yet."

In "Are Contraceptives Good for Your Sex Life?", University of Wisconsin’s, Jenny Higgins, PhD, MPH, explores how regular contraceptive use can improve sexual satisfaction and pleasure for cisgender women.

Next, Megan Christofield of Jhpiego posits how we might take advantage of the blossoming field of precision medicine to "control" or predict contraceptive method side effects and/or side benefits in "Wave of the Future: Using Precision Medicine to Illuminate Side Benefits."

Stay tuned for more posts on this topic - coming soon!

You can also join the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn. One way to engage is to print off one of four sign options: My Ideal #FPSideBenefit, Why develop new contraceptive methods?, My idea for a #FPSideBenefit, or A game-changing future contraceptive, and fill it out with a short reflection on what you consider an ideal side benefit of using a family planning method (currently available or forward-looking). Take a photo with your sign and, using the hashtag #FPSideBenefits, share with the CTI Exchange team by posting your photo to Twitter or LinkedIn and tagging @ctiexchange.

We are also still accepting contributions to the blog series; email us at cti@fhi360.org if you are interested in writing a blog for the series.


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