Delivering Contraceptive Vaginal Rings

A cooperative agreement between the Population Council and USAID is facilitating contraceptive development and supporting introduction of new methods in low-resource settings.

The Issue

Access to safe, effective, and affordable family planning methods in low-resource settings is often limited or nonexistent. New methods are needed to address the high demand among women and adolescent girls around the world who are seeking to space their births or limit the number of pregnancies.

The Progress

The Population Council has been awarded a cooperative agreement from the USAID Office of Population and Reproductive Health, "Delivering a Family of Contraceptive Vaginal Rings." This agreement supports two innovative contraceptive vaginal rings developed by the Council: a one-year contraceptive vaginal ring that can be used by women to plan their pregnancies and a three-month vaginal ring that can be used by breastfeeding women.

The Impact

The project will facilitate final development, regulatory review, and introduction of the one-year contraceptive vaginal ring containing Nestorone® and ethinyl estradiol in USAID priority countries. It will expand availability and increase affordability of the three-month Progesterone Vaginal Ring (PVR) in developing markets for postpartum breastfeeding women.

The project will engage representatives from communities of potential consumers and providers in decisionmaking related to country adoption of the PVR and the one-year ring. The project will also build collaboration with commercial outlets, social marketing providers, and not-for-profit providers to ensure broad availability of and access to the methods.

Long-acting vaginal rings represent an important advance in contraceptive development. These methods are especially beneficial for women in low-resource settings since they are designed to be under the woman’s control and do not require insertion by a healthcare provider or regular visits to a pharmacy.

  • The three-month PVR for breastfeeding women is an effective, user-controlled method that can aid in spacing pregnancies. It does not affect a woman’s ability to produce breast milk and does not require insertion by a healthcare provider. Each ring can be used continuously for three months, and rings can be used successively for up to one year. Fertility returns shortly after discontinuing use.
  • The one-year contraceptive vaginal ring contains ethinyl estradiol, an approved, marketed hormonal product, and Nestorone®, an investigational progestin that has been shown to be highly effective in preventing ovulation. Because it is intended to be effective for 13 cycles and does not require refrigeration, it may be an attractive option for women in developing countries who lack access to a healthcare facility or pharmacy, and where access to reliable electricity is lacking. The Council will submit a New Drug Application to the US Food and Drug Administration and seek to introduce the vaginal ring in USAID priority countries.

Key Staff (3)

  • John Townsend Director, Country Strategy, and Acting Ghana, Mexico, and Senegal Country Director, Washington, DC
  • Ruth Merkatz Director, Clinical Development, Center for Biomedical Research
  • Saumya RamaRao Senior Associate, New York

Journal Articles (2)

Research Publications (14)

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