The postcoital test in the development of new vaginal contraceptives

Christine K. Mauck, Kathleen L. Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Postcoital tests (PCTs) have been used for over a century in the clinical evaluation of infertile couples, and for nearly 70 years in the evaluation of new vaginal contraceptive products. PCTs have been largely replaced by more modern methods in the study of infertility, but they remain the most useful way to obtain preliminary data on the effectiveness of vaginal contraceptive products. The World Health Organization has described important aspects of the procedure. It involves collection of cervical mucus at a certain time point after intercourse and the counting and characterization of sperm found in the mucus. A wide range of progressively motile sperm (PMS) has been associated with pregnancy rates in infertility studies. Eligibility for contraceptive trials includes the requirement that couples achieve a certain threshold number of PMS per high power field at midcycle in a baseline cycle without the test product. The primary endpoint, or definition of a satisfactory result in test cycles, is predefined. A literature review identified 10 PCT studies of vaginal contraceptives involving nine test products. Phase II trials of vaginal contraceptives have not been deemed feasible in the development of any vaginal contraceptive to date. A PCT study of a test product can be predictive of contraceptive efficacy, although ultimate contraceptive effectiveness is influenced by the ease of use of the product, along with patient compliance. PCT results similar to results seen with products that later showed satisfactory performance in efficacy trials is the best indicator of likely success of a test product.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Diaphragm
  • Ferrous gluconate (iron)
  • Monthly
  • Non-coital
  • Nonhormonal
  • Postcoital test
  • Sperm motility
  • Transport
  • Vaginal contraception
  • Vaginal ring or device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine


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