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Contraception and Birth Control: NICHD Research Goals

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The ability to control one’s own reproduction includes the desire not only to have children, but also to have them at a time and manner that best ensures the future health of the child, the family, and the community. NICHD research on contraception and birth control addresses a range of goals, from using advances in genetics to identify novel contraceptive leads, to identifying new strategies for improving contraception use.

Some specific NICHD research goals related to contraception include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Discovering associations of gene expression related to male fertility
  • Exploring gene function at the cellular level as a way to control fertility
  • Studying the effects of contraceptive molecules at the organism level using knockouts and transgenesis
  • Developing targeted nonhormonal contraceptive methods with minimal side effects
  • Identifying specific hormonal agents, targeting their delivery, and supporting research to formulate methods of contraception delivery
  • Designing new nonhormonal contraceptive approaches that capitalize on the biology of the testes and epididymis
  • Increasing knowledge about the factors that control spermatogenesis to design specific compounds for male contraception
  • Analyzing long-term health effects, including effects on the prostate and on bone mass, of new agents for male contraception
  • Studying couples regarding their perspectives on gender roles, sexual access and function, fertility management, and parenting responsibilities
  • Examining males’ influence on females’ access to and use of reproductive services
  • Studying the effects of larger cultural factors on use of contraception and perceptions of self fertility management
  • Examining the effects of contraceptive experiences on individual risk-taking, partner relationships, risks for STDs, and pregnancy prevention across the lifespan
  • Researching the delivery of family planning services
  • Studying the sustained use of contraception and the reasons for discontinuation, inconsistent use, and method switching
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