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The History and Future of Birth Control

Wood Block Pessary

The word "pessary" covers a wide variety of objects that women have used over the centuries to block or kill sperm inside their vaginas. One of the more cringe-inducing options was the wood block pessary, a door-stop-sized, 6-sided block with divots carved on each side. The idea was that one of the divots would cover the cervix. The hope was that nobody would get a splinter.

An 'After-Sex' Pill

A woman sits in bed, looking worried.

(Image credit: Worried woman photo via Shutterstock)

In the future, an "after-sex" birth control pill could give women another option, researchers say. Studies show that 25 to 35 percent of women are sensitive to hormones in birth control pills, and experience negative emotional and sexual side effects. And some don't want to take a pill daily, when they have sex only once in a while, the researchers said. A birth control pill that worked to prevent implantation, after fertilization already happened, would offer an alternative to women who have difficulties with their current options. Researchers should investigate how to produce such a pill, they said.