Imagine birth control that you couldn’t feel, could be programmed by the user, and would last for 16 years. Set it, forget it, and get on with life. Researchers are testing an implanatable microchip right now that does just that.
MicroCHIPS of Massachusetts, the implant’s developer, is presently running animal tests on the chip. The same implant was previously tested for four months in humans as the delivery method for osteoporosis medication and if the hormonal birth control testing in animals goes well human tests will follow. Complete testing to gather data on failure rates and human safety over time will take years, but MicroCHIPS’ goal is to have the device on the market by 2018.
The device measures 20mm x 20mm x 7mm and releases a 30 microgram dose of the hormonal birth control levonorgestrel on a daily schedule set by the user. If the user wants to conceive, they simply update the device’s schedule to turn off. The same process can be done to resume using the device post-pregnancy. The device is calibrated to hold 16 years’ worth of daily doses of the levonorgestrel.
If successful the implant’s technology could be utilized with other drugs to treat other illnesses. In addition, MicroCHIPS hopes that success of the implant could lead to wider contraceptive uses, such as making it available for women around the world who don’t have good or regular access to birth control.