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    The Today Sponge Coming (Back) Soon

    continued...

    The manufacturer says Protectaid is 90% effective at preventing pregnancy, which is about the same effectiveness provided by the Today sponge.

    Barbara Bell, who runs the Canadian online business birthcontrol.com, tells WebMD that Protectaid is their most popular product. She notes that more than 6,000 women have signed up on her waiting list to receive the Today sponge once it becomes available, but "in the interim, they're quite happy to use the Protectaid sponge."

    If you choose Protectaid, buyer beware. The FDA's Susan Cruzan notes the agency "can't verify the quality or efficacy of products that are not produced in the U.S."

    But Protectaid isn't the only alternative:

    • FemCap, available in Europe now, could be on the U.S. market soon. Alfred Shihata, MD, creator of the FemCap, tells WebMD that he expects the FDA to approve the device in six months. FemCap is 85% effective at preventing pregnancy, which is comparable to other barrier birth control methods, he adds.
      FemCap is shaped differently from cervical caps and is made of silicone instead of latex. Silicone is less likely to cause allergic reactions or cause an unpleasant odor, Shihata says.
      The FemCap disadvantages? Like a cervical cap or a diaphragm, it is available by prescription only. And because it comes in different sizes, women have to be fitted for it. The price runs around $60, which is similar to the price of a cervical cap.
    • The Lea Contraceptive shield is another cervical caplike option. The device is available in Canada, but in 1996, FDA advisers failed to recommend it for approval here. This device has a one-way valve that allows secretions to flow out without letting sperm pass through.
    • The Pharmatex sponge and the Oves Contraceptive Cap are available in Europe, but they may be difficult to get here.
    • Contraceptives currently under development include the Avert sponge and the Silcs intravaginal barrier device, a diaphragm.

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