Soon, women will have a new option for birth control—a microchip that lasts for 16 years and can be turned on and off.
This microchip measures just 20 x 20 x 7 millimeters but contains a reservoir of hormones that are released every day.
This futuristic contraception is implanted just under the skin of buttocks, abdomen or the upper arms. Each day, this small chip dispenses 30 micrograms of levonorgestrel, a hormone widely used in existing contraceptives.
The device could be implanted using a local anesthetic, and the procedure would take around 30 minutes. In comparison, existing contraceptive implants are quicker to insert but don’t last as long.
The chip has 16 years of hormones, but it can be turned off if a woman wants to conceive and turn it on when she needs birth control again. Turning the chip on and off is easy: it comes with a remote control and doesn’t require any doctor’s appointment.
U.S. manufacturer MicroCHIPS is developing the chip with Robert Langer, one of the world’s top scientists. The microchip device is still in the testing phase. Pre-clinical trials of the contraceptive implant are expected to start this year.
MicroCHIPS hopes to put the device on sale by 2018.