New contraceptive patch could work for six months

A new contraceptive patch could be an easier long-acting alternative to other more complicated short-term birth control methods.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
New contraceptive patch could work for six months - NewsMavens
Woman with a contraceptive patch, YouTube

Why this story matters:

In a time of technological and medical advances, healthcare is becoming a matter of choice in developed countries. When it comes to contraceptives that can impact every aspect of a woman's life, finding the right form of birth control is critical.

A new contraceptive patch applied to the skin could be a long-term alternative to the pill, implant devices and coils. It could be worn for seconds but provide contraception for weeks.

Are we finally moving into an era where women have more than a handful of choices of birth control? It seems so. But for women in developing countries where even one form of contraception is out of reach, the contraceptive patch could be a game-changer.

Details from the story:

  • A microneedle contraceptive patch is being developed by scientists and researchers at Cardiff University in Wales. The patch is being developed by product designers, clinicians and contraception specialists, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organisation set up by the Microsoft mogul to fund healthcare and education projects.The experimental contraceptive skin patch releases the hormone levonorgestrel, a synthetic form of progesterone, into the body through microscopic, biodegradable needles. Women can apply the patch themselves and it could provide birth control for up to six months, despite being worn for only seconds.
  • Given the affordability and simplicity of the contraceptive method, the patch is being developed for lower-income countries where women have limited or no access to contraception, such as part of sub-Saharan Africa that have limited medical care like Uganda and The Gambia.
  • But this doesn't mean the patch won't be a choice for women worldwide in the future.
  • James Birchall, the project's co-leader and professor at Cardiff University's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said: "While the current focus is on developing the patch for use in low and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, there’s no reason that it couldn’t also be made available to women throughout the world in future."
  • Clinical user studies will take place in the coming months, after the product is developed further.
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