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Since the 1960s, the solution to contraception problems has been based increasingly on complexity, not simplicity. The oral contraceptive was developed in the late 1950s using newly discovered synthetic hormones that act in intricate ways on glands in the brain. Intrauterine devices were widely introduced in the 1960s in a host of scientifically engineered configurations that act inside a woman’s uterus. Nearly half of all married couples in the United States who use some method of contraception use either the pill or IUD. In examining emerging social trends and considering the special needs of some large groups for better contraceptives—adolescents, women over 30, individuals concerned with health and safety—in many respects barrier methods appear to offer a commonsense solution to age-old problems. They offer high effectiveness combined with freedom from short- or long-term side effects and the freedom to be fertile in the future. This Public Issues paper examines how good or bad today’s barrier contraceptives are, and how acceptable they are. New patterns of use and demand for barrier contraceptives in this country are documented, and the potential utility of these methods is considered for couples living in developing countries.