In great news for those of us who constantly forget to take our pill, US researchers have developed a new contraceptive patch which can be worn once and thrown away.
According to the Science Media Centre, the reversible microneedle patch will transfer within a minute of contact. The hormone levonorgestrel will then be slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of the month.
- Explainer: How do the Pharmac-funded contraceptives Mirena and Jaydess work?
- Pharmac announces funding for Mirena and Jaydess contraceptives
A type of contraceptive patch is already available, but has to be worn consistently and changed every week, meaning it's less convenient than other forms of birth control.
So far, tests to see if the one-minute patch will consistently deliver the contraceptive over time have only been demonstrated in rats, so further testing on humans will be needed before it goes to market.
Professor Rachel Skinner from the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney says microneedle patches are "an exciting and promising way of improving access to common and important medications that are usually administered by needle or tablet".
"Microneedle patches have promising benefits over traditional methods of administration: they are very simple and safe to administer and self-administration may be possible, with simple instructions," she says.
"They are likely to be cost-effective if they remove the need for expensive medical procedures.
"If this technology is shown to work in humans, it has the potential to improve access to effective contraception, due to the simplicity of use."
In a series of focus group discussions done by patch researchers, female participants all stated they would prefer the monthly patch to a monthly birth control injection, with 90 percent saying they would also prefer it to daily pills.
Scientists predict the patch will be readily available to the public in around five to seven years.