Approximately 48.2% of couples of 15 to 49 years of age practice family planning methods in India. Female sterilization accounts for 34.2%, with male sterilization declining from 3·4% in 1992–93 to 1·9% in 1998–99. Use of the condom increased to 3·1% from 2·4%. There is an urgent need for research to develop new contraceptive modalities especially for men and also for women and to make existing methods more safe, affordable and acceptable. Current efforts in India to develop a male contraceptive are mainly directed towards (i) development of antispermatogenic agents to suppress sperm production, (ii) prevention of sperm maturation, (iii) prevention of sperm transport through vas deferens or rendering these sperm infertile and (iv) prevention of sperm deposition. Research work in the field of prevention of sperm transport through vas deferens has made significant advances. Styrene maleic anhydride (SMA) disturbed the electrical charge of spermatozoa leading to acrosome rupture and consequent loss in fertilizing ability of sperm. A multicentre phase-III clinical trial using SMA is continuing and it is hoped that the SMA approach would be available in the near future as an indigenously developed injectable intra-vasal male contraceptive.
The safety and efficacy of available oral contraceptives were evaluated. An indigenously developed oral contraceptive ‘Centchorman’, which is a nonsteroidal, weakly estrogenic but potently antiestrogenic, was found to be safe and effective and is now being marketed in India since 1991 as a ‘once a week’ pill. Cyclofem and Mesigyna have been recommended as injectable contraceptives with proper counselling and service delivery by Indian studies. It has been recommended that these injectable contraceptives be added to the existing range of contraceptive methods available in the National Family Planning Programme. Based on the Indian studies CuT 200 was also recommended. Studies have indicated the advantage of intrauterine devices (IUD); they are long acting, relatively easily removed and fertility returns rapidly after their removal. Recent studies have recommended CuT 200 for use up to 5 years. The combination of some plant products i.e.Embelia ribes, Borax andPiper longum has been found to be safe and effective as a female contraceptive and the results of phase-I clinical trials are encouraging.
Research work is going on in the country in various areas with special reference to hormonal contraceptive — a three monthly injectable contraceptive, immuno-contraceptives, antiprogestins, etc.