Contraceptives for females that are for the long- term need to be administered by professionals who are trained for the process, that includes injections and in many cases implanting devices in the body. Such options are not available in settings that are low on resources. In order to address this issue, a microneedle patch built to ensure long lasting contraception function has been developed by researchers at Georgia Tech and University of Michigan. The patch needs to be pressed against the skin and long- term contraception will be taken care of without any hassle. A similar patch based on the same technology had also been developed by Georgia Tech for Flu. The new contraceptive patch has already shown successful results when tested on lab rats, depicting that the blood levels of the hormone delivered through the patch increased to the required levels.
The paper’s corresponding author, Mark Praustnitz said that options for long- acting contraceptives have been sought after by many. The micropatch has been developed keeping in mind the goal of providing women the option of self- administered long- acting contraceptives. With this new patch, applying it once a month against the skin will solve the purpose.
Once the user presses down the patch, the needles which are biodegradable break off inside the skin. For the entire needle to end up within the skin, there are air bubbles right at the base of the needles that ensure the needles to fracture precisely. A commonly used contraceptive called levonorgestrel is infused in the polymer made needles of the patch. The levonorgestrel is released in the body once the polymer breaks down inside the skin, through a period of weeks in small quantities.
For now the researchers are claiming that the contraceptive will last for up to six months in the body, however there is a lot of work required for the technology to be used on humans.