Image: nullplus/Getty Images Birth control pills and traditional latex condoms have been among the most popular and effective methods of contraception for decades. Health organizations and forward-thinking companies are making breakthroughs in the field of contraception, working to develop new products such as hormone-releasing microchips, radically redesigned condoms and even low-cost male birth control injections that could last up to 15 years. An estimated 222 million women in developing countries would like to prevent childbearing, but are not using any method of contraception, according to the World Health Organization.
Health organizations and forward-thinking companies are making breakthroughs in the field of contraception, working to develop new products such as hormone-releasing microchips, radically redesigned condoms and even low-cost male birth control injections that could last up to 15 years.
Contraception is important in developed nations, too, of course. There are 62 million women in the United States in their childbearing years (between the ages of 15 and 44), according to the Guttmacher Institute. Of those women who have had sexual intercourse, more than 99% have used at least one contraceptive method. The most popular method is the pill.
Dorflinger says there has been limited investment in contraceptive research and development in recent decades, but organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds FHI 360’s Contraceptive Technology Innovation initiative, have started to change that. FHI 360, specifically, is currently working on a new injectable contraceptive that could last for six months, a biodegradable implant and assessing a subcutaneous method to deliver injectable contraceptives that has been developed by PATH, called Sayana Press.
MicroCHIPS, a Lexington, Massachusetts-based startup formed by MIT researchers, is developing a remote-controlled, implanted microchip that can deliver drugs beneath your skin – including hormonal birth control. It’s designed to last up to 16 years, and can be controlled by wirelessly opening and closing a reservoir that releases the hormone levonorgestrel over a course of 30 days.
Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (RISUG), commonly known by its more recent, (hopefully soon) commercial version, Vasalgel, is a revolutionary type of birth control. Why? It’s a form of male birth control, reducing the onus on women to take care of contraception before sex. All it takes is one shot of polymer, or gel, into the vas deferens, creating a semi-solid plug that blocks sperm in a 15-minute procedure. Read more…