Birth control pills and patches may soon be replaced with a clear contraceptive gel. Simply rub a dab onto your skin - arms, legs, or abdomen - every day to prevent pregnancy. Best part: fewer side effects, researchers say.

Just 3 mg daily, applied to arms, legs, shoulders, or abdomen, was shown to be a suitable alternative to the pill, according to researchers, who tested the gel on 18 women.

Common pill side effects such as nausea and weight gain didn't occur in the test group, and researchers reported that the gel can even be used while breastfeeding.

Similar to the contraceptive patch, the gel provides progesterone and estrogen through the skin. But unlike the patch, it can't fall off and, of course, is invisible. Plus, it could avoid potential skin irritation and dirt buildup that comes with a weeklong adhesive like the patch.

The gel was developed in conjunction with the drug company Antares Pharma, which hopes to market the product if the clinical trial results continue to be positive.

Also in the pipeline is a contraceptive spray developed by Australia biotech company Acrux. The spray (a so-far unnamed product) showed positive results in early clinical trials, although more work is needed before it becomes available. And like the gel, it can be used while breastfeeding. 

Stay tuned to the companies' websites for more information: