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The Chemistry of Contraceptives

Annika Young and Quincy Parkes


What is a contraceptive?
contraceptive (adj.)

1. (of a method or device) serving to prevent pregnancy


2. a device or drug serving to prevent pregnancy

Before the 20th century, contraceptives were a crime


Early forms of contraceptives & abortion techniques
● Spit into a frog’s mouth
● Copper salt solutions
● Eating the kidney, uterus, or burned/castrated testicles of a mule
● Mercury poisoning
● Quicksilver fried in oil
● Brewed herbal teas
● Spiders eggs or snake
History & Creation of Contraceptives
● Antibiotics & antiseptics

○ Lower mortality rates

○ Search to limit family size

● Russell Marker

○ Steroid isolation to allow research

○ Dioscorea yam, lots of sapogenin, now commercially in Mexico


Russell Marker
● University of Maryland

● Rockefeller Institute in Manhattan

● Pennsylvania State College

● Sarsaparilla (sarsasapogenin, sarsasapogenin)

● Marker degradation

● Dioscorea (Diosgenin)

● Syntex & Botanica-Mex


Structures of sapogenins

sarsasapogenin diosgenin

progesterone
The Mothers of the Pill
Margaret Sanger

● Founder of International Planned Parenthood


● Put in jail (1917)

Katherine McCormick

● One of the first women to receive a degree in Biology from MIT


● Helped Margaret Sanger
The Pill and the Independence of Women
● Many people associate the rise of feminism and the independence of women at

the time with the invention and distribution of contraceptives

● Pregnancy became a choice

● Sexual revolution of the 1960’s

● More women in the workplace

● Breakdown of traditional family life


Progesterone, Estrogen, and Testosterone
The 3 most prominent hormones in the body

Progesterone: Hormones of pregnancy

Testosterone: Principle male sex hormone

Estrogen: Female sex hormones


Norethindrone
● First oral contraceptive

● AKA “The Pill”

● Artificial progestin

● Missing methyl group and added triple bonded carbon


How does this work?
● Conception
○ Fertilized egg
○ Attaches to uterus

● Progesterone
○ Uterine lining
○ Pregnancy- constant progesterone
○ Prevents ovulation
○ Changes cervix
○ Changes lining
Hormonal Birth Control
● Most forms of birth control involve manipulation of hormones

● Progesterone

● Forms of hormonal birth control include:

○ The Pill

○ IUD’s

○ Injections (male [new] and female)

○ Vaginal Ring
The Pill
● $0-$50 a month
● Oral hormone control
● Progestin (estrogen)
● More than 99% effective (proper use)
● 89% effective (improper use)
● Thickens cervical mucus
● Stops ovulation
● May thin the uterine lining
● Different dosage for the pill
IUD’s & IUS’s
● Small T-shaped device in uterus

● Copper or hormonal

● $0-$1000

● 12 years (3-5 IUS)

● Very effective

● Oligodynamic effect…
Vaginal Ring
● Otherwise known as the NuvaRing

● Inserted onto the cervix

● Releases estrogen and progestin

● Inhibits ovulation
Injections
● $0-$100 per injection

● 8-13 weeks (depending on brand)

● Very effective

● Progesterone

○ Cervix mucus

○ Uterine lining

○ Release of egg
Vasalgel
First form of male hormonal contraception

● Polymer gel injected into the septum

● Same principal as a vasectomy

● More easily reversible

● Lasts for up to a year


Diaphragm
● Shallow cup inserted on the cervix

● Coated in spermicide

● Can be used for 2 years

● Possible to use during menstruation

● Similar to the sponge


The Patch
● $0-$80 monthly

● Patch once a week, 3 weeks, w/ break

● Progesterone

● Prevents ovulation

● Thickens cervical mucus

● Very effective
Plan-B (Morning-After Pill)
● Taken 24-72 hours after unprotected sex

● More effective the sooner you take it

● Blocks progesterone

● Levonorgestrel
RU-486
● AKA Mifepristone

● Misoprostol

● First 50 days- 95%

● Effective in second trimester

● USA- use up to 70 days (10 weeks)

● Blocks progesterone- uterine lining shed


Spermicide (Nonoxynol-9)
● One of the most ineffective forms of birth control

● More effective when used with another contraceptive

● Can cause skin irritation


Sponge
● $0-$15, 3 sponges

● Foam sponge

● Contains spermicide

● Covers cervix, blocks sperm

● More effective in women without children


Male Condoms
● $0.50 to $1.00

● Thin sheath that covers the penis during intercourse

● 98% effective

● Very expandable

● Latex and non-latex condoms


Latex
● Latex is an emulsion (stable dispersion)

● Polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium

● Primarily found in plants


Female Condoms
● ~$4 each

● Pouch inserted into the vagina

● One closed end

● Prevents sperm from entering uterus

● 95% effective
Implanon
● Plastic device in bicep area

● Implanon or Nexplanon

● Up to 3 years

● Progestin

○ Prevents ovulation

○ Thickens cervical mucus

● More than 99% effective


Contraceptives
● Catalyzed the independence of females

● Made pregnancy a choice

● Revolutionized the synthesis of hormones

● Primarily hormonal, some just inhibiting

● Important to virtually everyone