Introduction: There has been no novel contraceptive development since 'the Pill', 50 years ago. Despite the subsequent steady increase in the use of contraceptives, the contraceptive needs of a significant proportion of the world population have not yet been met. The key need is for novel, effective, practical, long-lasting, affordable, non-steroidal contraceptives. Immunocontraception, based on vaccination against components of the reproductive system that do not affect other physiological systems, fulfils most of the criteria of such a contraceptive. To date, immunocontraceptives have been developed for animal use and the application to human contraception is an exciting proposition. In addition, immunocontraceptive research has provided a greater understanding of the vaccination against 'self-antigens' and has led to non-contraceptive developments for these vaccines. Areas covered: This review provides an understanding of the historic context of immunocontraceptives and the progress that has been made. In some cases, the contraceptive aspect has been abandoned, but the knowledge gained has enabled other therapeutic advances. Expert opinion: Reproductive research is still an important area and innovations continue to arise, which offer hope for new therapeutics in reproduction and related fields.
- contraceptive vaccines