The Next Big Thing

Condomless STD Prevention

Here's the scoop: Ribbed or not, condoms don't really exist for anyone's pleasure. But what if you could protect against both rug rats and STDs without a spontaneity-sucking latex barrier? A new gel (brand name: Amphora) coats your vaginal walls, killing STDs on contact but leaving your body's natural bacteria alone. Inserted up to 12 hours before sex with a device that covers the cervix, it does double duty as a contraceptive. Amphora's release will be a banner moment for women worldwide whose partners won't roll on a Trojan: "It will finally put the power to protect against STDs into the woman's hands," says Dr. Alfred Shihata, chief medical officer of Instead, the company testing Amphora.

ETA: Three years. Clinical trials are expected to take up to two more years. If they're successful, an OTC product could get the FDA greenlight by 2011.

For more health tips, check out the latest issue of Women's Health, on shelves now!

Female Viagra

Here's the scoop: For 10 years, men have been able to pop a pill and go from limp to lusty. Soon -- fingers crossed -- women may be able to get their own boost from a prescription bottle. The German company Boehringer Ingelheim has developed flibanserin, which works by reducing serotonin at the receptor in the brain responsible for sexual desire. "Serotonin suppresses dopamine, which in turn stimulates arousal," says Dr. Anita Clayton, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia. "By decreasing serotonin at that receptor, we'll allow dopamine to emerge and do its thing." So you can do your thing.

ETA: Less than two years. Clinical trials for the pill are slated to be completed by the end of this year, which means it could be reviewed by the FDA in late 2009.

Needle-Free Blood Sugar Test

Here's the scoop: If you're one of the 21 million Americans with diabetes, checking your blood sugar as often as you check your e-mail can be a pain -- literally. A new contact lens could soon replace the finger prick. The lens -- which will also correct poor vision -- contains a photonic crystal that changes color when the glucose level of your tears increases or decreases. One glance in the mirror and you'll know your blood sugar status. "This technology doesn't draw blood, it doesn't cause pain, and it allows you to continually monitor your glucose level," says Sanford Asher, a chemistry professor at the University of Pittsburgh, who is involved in testing the lens.

ETA: Up to four years. "We're gearing up for clinical trials, which could last up to two years," Asher says. FDA approval is expected to take another one to two years.

An Easier Cancer Treatment

Here's the scoop: Though a cure for the Big C is still out of reach, scientists are on track to render the nasty side effects of treatment--fatigue, nausea, hair loss--a thing of the past. "All of the current therapies [chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery] destroy healthy cells along with the cancer cells, which is what causes the side effects," says Dr. Marek Malecki, a professor in South Dakota State University's department of pharmaceutical sciences.

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