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Researchers Develop a Skin Patch to Provide Long Acting Contraception

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of US showed that almost 60 percent of women in reproductive age are using contraceptive products and a majority of them are on the pill. Though 27 percent of women are using long-term female sterilization methods like intrauterine implants and devices, they need to be administered by a professional which is why some women still prefer birth control pills as a short-term measure. But now with a new invention, they can administer long-term contraceptive to themselves with just a skin patch through a micro-needle.

According to a research paper published by authors Wei Li and Mark Prausnitz from Atlanta-based Georgia Institute of Technology in Nature Biomedical Engineering journal, an innovative technology has been devised to deliver levonorgestrel contraceptive through a skin patch to women. To create the contraceptive and administer it, the researchers used a technology that is already in use for administering vaccines and the needles containing levonorgestrel hormone remain under the skin and release it which causes disruption in periodic cycles of the woman on whom it has been administered.

The needles are able to release the hormone easily as they are made of biodegradable polymers which are easy to push into the skin and break off when the patch is shifted away. These tiny needles are made from biodegradable polymers that naturally occur in the body so they can be absorbed easily. According to researchers, the polymer matrix was designed in a unique way to slowly release the hormone into a woman’s body over several weeks and months. Though clinical trials of the methodology have not been tried in humans, it has been successfully tested on mice. Researchers agree that there could be skin irritation where the patch is inserted into the skin but that can be verified only after human trials.

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