Rajani Bhatia & Jennifer Yanco
Series Number: 16
A potential new form of contraception fuels the ongoing controversy surrounding the development of methods of birth control versus methods of population control. Unlike currently available methods that work either mechanically as a barrier (condom, diaphragm), chemically (spermicidal foams and jellies), or hormonally (the pill, DepoProvera, Norplant), immuno-contraceptives, also called anti-fertility “vaccines,” work via the immune system. These contraceptives are designed to operate like vaccines. They attach a disease component (usually tetanus or diphtheria) to a reproductive component (cells or hormones). This tricks the body into developing antibodies that attack its own cells and hormones along with the disease. The effectiveness of immuno-contraception depends on the rate at which these antibodies are produced, and this varies considerably from person to person.