New Birth Control Skin Patch Being Developed

A skin patch that provides a month's worth of birth control for women is being developed by U.S. researchers.

The patch, which can be pressed into an arm or leg, has dissolvable microneedles that implant into the skin and slowly dissolve over time, delivering a contraceptive hormone, NBC News reported.

No doctor visit is needed, according to the Georgia Tech team. Their research was published Jan. 14 in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

"There is a lot of interest in providing more options for long-acting contraceptives," Mark Prausnitz, a professor in the bioengineering program, said in a statement, NBC News reported.

"Our goal is for women to be able to self-administer long-acting contraceptives with the microneedle patch that would be applied for five seconds just once a month," he explained.

The patch is based on a similar approach developed at Georgia Tech for needle-free vaccination, NBC News reported.

In rats, the press-on patch delivered an even flow of a month's worth of birth control hormone, according to the researchers. It's effectiveness in people hasn't been tested, but animal tests don't always pan out in humans.

The university is working with a spin-off company called Micron Biomedical to further develop the patch, Prausnitz said.

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