5 Innovative Ways Birth Control is Being Re-invented

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Added by December 3, 2017

From remote-controlled implanted microchip that can deliver drugs beneath your skin – including hormonal birth control to Caya contoured diaphragm, here are top 5 innovative ways birth control is being re-invented.

#1. MicroCHIPS Remote-Controlled Contraceptive:
MicroCHIPS, a Lexington Massachusetts-based startup formed by MIT researchers, has developing a remote-controlled implanted microchip that can deliver drugs beneath your skin – including hormonal birth control. It’s designed to be implanted in the buttocks, upper arm or abdomen and can be controlled by wirelessly opening and closing a reservoir that releases the hormone levonorgestrel (a fairly common ingredient in several forms of birth control) from daily pills to contraceptive implants over a course of 30 days. The device is tiny – but don’t let it’s “microchip” status fool you into thinking it’s just some sci-fi phase. The chip will actually protect you from unwanted pregnancy for up to 16 years. The device is not the first hormonal implant, but it is the longest-lasting and (here’s where the remote comes in) the most instantly gratifying. With the push of a button, you can deactivate the chip and halt your daily dosage – and you can just as easily turn it back on. Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the tech behind the device, and licensed it to MicroCHIPS. Its potential is exciting for anyone, but it could be an especially viable option for women in developing nations with limited access to affordable contraception. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Family Planning program, MicroCHIPS is working to get US Food and Drug Administration’s approval for pre-clinical trials in 2015, and aims to put it on the market by 2018. The biggest problem MicroCHIPS hopes to solve in 2015 is the possibility of remote hacking. (If it gives you the creeps to find out someone’s snuck onto your Wi-Fi, imagine how you’d feel if your birth-control remote wasn’t 100% hacker-proof.) Following tests, MicroCHIPS’ goal is to put the product on the market by 2018.

#2. Origami Condoms:
In March 2013, the Gates Foundation offered $100,000 to any innovator who could introduce “the next generation of condom” to the world. It was a radical request, in part because it publicly acknowledged a universal lack of incentive to use the traditional male condom – including the widely held belief that it reduces sensation. One of the submissions to receive early praise in the challenge came from California-based company “Origami Condoms”, which redesigned the prophylactic so the wearer feels it even more. However, the inside of the condom mimics natural sensation and, as a result, is designed to increase pleasure. The condom is also non-rolled, and therefore easier to apply. Origami condoms are internally lubricated and allow for fluid internal movement, and they come in male, female, and anal varieties. It now available commercially and has hit the market in early 2015. Oh! Saints be praised! The skies have opened. They’re the kind of condoms that are gonna make us whine. Origami Condoms has also designed a female condom known as “Condom Feminine”, a latex female condom that comes equipped with a miniaturized bullet vibrator in its frame base. Sitting snugly against the clitoris, the vibrating condom would be the first-ever condom designed with both women’s safety and pleasure in mind. Sound a little sci-fi. It’s just one of the many industrious takes on the condom underway as the focus on contraception turns to enhancing pleasure. From creations like foldable condoms to $100,000 grants for condom innovation by the Gates Foundation, we’re finally rejecting the status quo in favor of condoms that take advantage of technology – and feel really, really good.

#3. L Condoms:
L. is trying to reinvent the traditional condom from the start, by changing the way we manufacture and market it. The B Corporation’s condoms are made from sustainably tapped, locally sourced and biodegradable latex – without irritating additives often associated with typical latex – and they’re packaged in discreet-100% recycled boxes. For every condom sold, one is donated to a developing country battling the HIV/AIDS epidemic – making L. kind of like the TOMS of safe sex. Photojournalist Talia Frenkel founded the company after documenting human rights issues for the United Nations and other NGOs. Witnessing the epidemic firsthand, she committed to creating L. to help ensure safe sex as a human right. The condoms are currently available in the U.S. and Canada, with guaranteed one-hour delivery (via bike messenger, no less) in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Manhattan.

#4. RISUG – Vasalgel:
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.  Not only that, it’s 100% effective, low-cost, reversible and can last between 10 and 15 years. When you do decide you want those babies, it only takes one other injection of water and baking soda to flush out the gel, and within two to three months, you’ve got all your healthy sperm again. The only issue “is it’s taking awhile to hit the market”. Many reports cite money as its primary obstacle; big pharma probably isn’t interested in an inexpensive contraceptive intended to be used only once. Nevertheless, the Parsemus Foundation (the NGO behind Vasalgel) is testing the polymer with baboons as of Sept. 4, 2014, and plans to start clinical trials in humans in 2017.

#5. Caya Contoured Diaphragm (formerly SILCS):
Diaphragms are a reusable, affordable form of birth control, but according to global health nonprofit PATH, they’re rarely included in family planning programs, despite a high demand for non-hormonal contraception. Many attribute the diaphragm’s unpopularity to discomfort and difficulty in applying it. However, the Caya-brand contoured diaphragm, previously called the SILCS diaphragm during design and testing stages, improves those drawbacks. Developed by PATH, CONRAD and other partners, the redesigned single-size diaphragm ensures increased comfort and ease of use. Like a traditional diaphragm, Caya is inserted into the vagina before sex, positioning it so that it covers the cervix to prevent sperms from getting anywhere near your cervix and is used with a contraceptive gel. What makes the Caya diaphragm different is that its special features—such as the one-size fits-most design were based on inspiration and input from women and health care providers. PATH’s compression testing ensures the diaphragm has the appropriate spring tension, durability, and strength over time. It can also aid in the delivery of gels that can prevent HIV and STIs, potentially making the diaphragm the “first true” multipurpose prevention technology (MPT), according to USAID’s Judy Manning. The contoured diaphragm was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 9, 2014.

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