Update: The Caya diaphragm is now available in the U.S.
Just when we were starting to worry about fans of this old-school barrier method, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it has cleared a new diaphragm for sale in the United States. This diaphragm, which will be sold as Caya (a.k.a. SILCS), is made of silicone and women around the world helped design it. It comes in just one size that fits most women.
This good news means that U.S. women are one step closer to having a new non-hormonal birth control option. The crummy news is that it will probably be about a year before U.S. women can actually fill a prescription for Caya. The company that makes it has to find a distribution partner in the U.S., and it will be available first through health care providers. Stay tuned for more news.
Meanwhile, in Canada and Europe…
Women in Canada and 10 European countries already have access to Caya. Most of these countries allow it to be sold without a prescription. Some women in Germany who bought Caya took a survey about it. They said their main reasons for choosing it were that it doesn’t have hormones, and—unlike earlier diaphragms—it doesn’t need to be fitted by a doctor. (Still, about a third of the women did ask a health care provider to confirm that the Caya diaphragm fit them correctly.)
Next up: spermicide
With this next-generation diaphragm on the way, how about some new and improved spermicides to match? The only spermicides available in the U.S. contain an active ingredient called nonoxynol-9 or N-9. It’s not so hot at preventing pregnancy: 1 in 4 women using an N-9 spermicide alone become accidentally pregnant in a year. N-9 spermicides can also cause irritation, especially with regular use, and may increase the risk of STIs. Women in Canada and Europe are ahead on this front, too. They can get an alternative contraceptive gel, called Contragel, made with lactic acid.
Another similar gel, called Amphora, is being tested in the U.S. now. The FDA has already cleared Amphora as a lube, and this study will determine how effective it is a preventing pregnancy when used on its own. It will take more research to learn how well it works with a diaphragm like Caya. Here’s hoping they go together like French fries and ketchup…