Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Soft Wear Patch

'Fizzing' needle skin patch delivers long-acting contraception

21 November 2019

Soft Wear Patch

These microneedles are part of a new contraceptive patch – but don’t worry, each is a hundred times smaller than a pin. Harmlessly pressed against the skin for a minute, a chemical reaction between the needles and the skin’s interstitial fluid causes them to fizz – detaching from the patch but remaining embedded in the skin. Here a red dye highlights their tips which are usually clear, disappearing into the skin an hour after wearing the patch. Over the next month, as the biodegradable needles dissolve away, they release a steady amount of levonorgestrel, a contraceptive hormone, into the blood. With many current birth control methods being unreliable, invasive or simply too expensive in certain parts of the world, this new option may help to give more women the power of choice.

Written by John Ankers

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