Contraceptive Jewelry Under Development
In the future, preventing pregnancy may be as easy as putting on jewelry. According to an article in the Journal of Controlled Release, researchers at Georgia Tech have tested a transdermal contraceptive patch which does double-duty as an earring back. This work, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) under a subcontract funded by FHI 360, has the potential to increase compliance with a contraceptive regimen in a way that is discreet and appealing to women around the world.
Transdermal delivery system technologies are currently used to treat and manage other conditions such as smoking cessation, motion sickness and menopausal symptoms. However, the novel application of such a technology in jewelry may result in a patch that is smaller and could be reapplied on a weekly basis. Although early tests in animals suggest that the earring back patches deliver an adequate amount of contraceptive hormones in the blood stream, further studies are necessary to determine whether the patches are safe and effective in humans.
“Pharmaceutical jewelry introduces a novel delivery method that may make taking contraceptives more appealing,” Mark Prausnitz, a Regents Professor and the J. Erskine Love Jr. chair in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, stated. “Making it more appealing should make it easier to remember to use it.”
This research complements the work of the 2017 Contraceptive Technology Innovation Lab, a collaboration between FHI 360, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Quicksand Design. The effort, which leveraged Human Centered Design to facilitate insight-driven ideation for future contraceptive technologies, was anchored in women’s needs and preferences. Ideation events in Kenya and India in 2018 found that women in these countries were drawn to discreet methods, and contraceptive jewelry was frequently suggested as an ideal delivery system.