Could A Microneedle Patch Replace Your Birth Control?

It’s exciting that there are more birth control options coming our way, the most recent of which is known as a “microneedle patch.” Here are 13 important things to know about this method of preventing pregnancy to help determine if it might be right for you.

  1. It leaves needles in your skin. It sounds scarier than it really is, I promise! When you apply the microneedle patch to your skin, microscopic needles break away from the patch and stay under the surface of your skin. These contain biodegradable polymers that release levonorgestrel, a contraceptive drug, into your body. Levonorgesterl is a hormone that’s commonly found in the morning-after pill.
  2. It leaves behind 100 needles. OK, again, not as scary as it sounds! When the patch is pressed against the skin, it releases 100 needles that will remain under the skin. Animal tests that have been conducted on mice show that the amount of hormone delivered by 100 needles is expected to be a high enough amount to prevent pregnancies in humans. Sounds like a lot of hormones, but bear in mind that these hormones are slowly released into your body—you don’t get them all at once.
  3. It won’t fall off. You don’t have to worry about the patch falling off like a band-aid or other patches because once the needle’s in your skin, you’re done and you don’t have to worry about contraception for another month. Phew.
  4. It’s similar to vaccines in a way. The microneedle patch is interesting because it uses what’s known as microneedle technology, which was originally created to give people injections in a pain-free way!
  5. Skin irritation is kept to a minimum. The scientists have claimed that these microneedle patches are expected not to irritate the skin when pressed against it. So you won’t have to worry about skin reactions.
  6. There’s no pain involved. Administering the microneedle patch won’t hurt at all, which is a big bonus. It’s even better news if you’re deathly afraid of needles because even though microscopic needles will break away from the patch when it makes contact with the skin, these tiny needles are surrounded by air bubbles that will make them break off easily without you feeling anything. You just have to shift the patch a little to the side and voila!
  7. All you need is five seconds. You’re busy, I know, but using this patch won’t be a mission, unlike when you have to force yourself to remember to take your birth control pill every day. Now that’s a schlep. The microneedle patch is awesome because you just have to press it onto your skin for five seconds and it’ll start to work its magic. It also helps that you don’t have to worry about it for 30 days.
  8. It’s discreet. Unlike a patch that everyone can see on your skin, no one will be able to see it because the microneedle patch releases tiny needles under your skin, out of plain site. This is also great because it gives you greater control and comfort when it comes to your fertility and health.
  9. You can give yourself “injections.” The microneedle patch will really be convenient. You won’t have to go to your doctor for contraception injections. You basically give them to yourself by applying the patch once a month, cutting down on doc visits and long waiting room queues on busy mornings.
  10. It’s better for your lifestyle. Not just convenient when it comes to contraception, the microneedle patch is easier on your lifestyle too. For one, it doesn’t result in disposal because it hardly creates any waste. Secondly, it’s really easy to store because it’s about the size of a quarter. That’s minute! Finally, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated so you don’t have to worry about it losing its strength or quality from not being delivered or stored correctly. Contraceptive options with less hassle and stress? I want that!
  11. OK, where is it? Although the microneedle patch sounds really interesting, you might have to wait a bit before you can get your hands on it. Apparently, scientists have only just tested the microneedle patch on mice. It’s going to take time for them to test it on humans to see what it will do, although it looks very promising. After that, there will be more tests to do as well as clinical trials before we see this goodie on the market. So it might be a while, much like other fascinating contraceptive options, like the male birth control pill. Sigh.
  12. There’s more good news. This microneedle patch is just the beginning of cost-effective and more convenient women’s health options. In the future, scientists are hoping that they could produce a contraceptive patch that would be able to protect against pregnancies for up to six months! Imagine that—six months of not having to even worry or think about contraception! With contraception being such a big concern for so many women, it’s nice to think that sometime in the future we’ll have one less thing to worry about so we can get on with living our fabulous lives.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.