Ladies, have you tried using birth control but didn’t like what it did to your body? Or do you have infrequent sex and are loathe to ingest a lot of hormones all the time?
Well, you may not be alone. One-third of sexually active women in the US used withdrawal (meaning the gentleman pulled out before he finished the deed) as their birth control method in the last 30 days. (Contraception, May 2014) And, many of these women had used birth control in the past. What’s more, a recent BBC Radio show reported on British women with Master’s degrees and mortgages who shun contraception. Along the same vein, there are African (and Asian) women who know about birth control and don’t want to get pregnant but avoid using it either because they don’t have sex that often or they’re afraid of the possible side effects. (Guttmacher, June 2014)
So, globally, a lot of women don’t want to get pregnant but don’t use birth control. While some of these women don’t have access to contraceptives for many reasons, many of these women have tried using modern birth control in the past. So, what’s up with that?
Sounds like we need some “disruptive technology” up here in birth control!
Disruptive technology – or innovation – is something that completely changes the game and often doesn’t use the same players – like big business or big government. Back in the day, “The Pill” was the big game changer. The pharma company Searle launched the first contraceptive pill in 1960 and 5 years later almost 7 million American women were on the pill. But, the pill’s side effects have scared women away and made the FDA leery at times. While there have been new contraceptives introduced since 1960, often developed in part with US government funding, all of these methods include hormones. They include the patch and vaginal rings which like the pill allow the lady to control the use herself and long acting methods like implants which some see as revolutionary because you don’t have to go back to the medical provider for years to replace it.
Disruptive innovation based on IT is affecting lots of industries. In large urban cities, thanks to almost everybody and their grandmother owning smartphones, the transportation industry is being disrupted with ride share start ups like Uber, Zipcar, Lift, Sidecar and others, that make it easier to get a ride than traditional taxis and public transportation. Now a multi-billion dollar industry, these new forms of urban mobility are the norm and are now facing push back from London to Madrid to Washington, DC. Some would say African cities – home to innovative mobile solutions – are having an even bigger revolution in transportation. People are finding solutions without help from the government – or big business.
But, where is this homegrown, do-it-yourself-using-a-smartphone approach to contraception? According to Aqurance, 59% of pharma executives believe that the industry’s main competition will come from outside the pharma industry in 20 years. And, 85% of them believe the key to future profit will be focusing on the patient. Will this include future contraception as well? Smartphone apps are making fertility awareness methods more accessible – and effective. Once confined to calenders and beads, tracking your fertility as a birth control method has come a long way thanks to technology and smart phones.
But, new contraceptive technologies and alternatives to modern birth control are needed to address women’s needs. I mean, ladies, we need us an “uber” fertility solution that let’s us manage our fertility and still keep our “lady” feelings, right? Perhaps we need to look for them outside big business and big government.