To the women in our listening audience: What if you only had to take your birth control pill once a month?
Typically, birth control medication requires women to take the pill daily, ideally at the same time every day. Realistically, this can be a little difficult to manage. A study testing a new kind of monthly birth control in pigs was published in Science Translational Medicine.
The mechanism of this pill would act as an extended release of the contraceptive drug, diffusing it over the course of the four weeks as opposed to daily. The authors of the study hope the convenience of the monthly dose will appeal to those for whom the daily contraceptive was an inconvenience.
The star-shaped pill is made of polymer materials that are intended to break down over the course of one month in reaction to stomach acid, releasing the contraceptive into the stomach and the bloodstream. When stomach acid digests the gelatin-coated structure, it causes the pill to unfold, growing to a size that keeps it inside the stomach until all of the contraceptive drug has been effectively disseminated.
A typical birth control pill’s effect fades after 24 hours, but researchers believe this would hold steady for one month.
Now, they plan to keep refining it so the arms remain unaffected by other chemicals and changes in temperature or an individual’s pH levels.
Although the study focuses on birth control in particular, researchers posit that they may be able to use the extended release method over a monthly period to deliver other medications.
It may be some time before this is available over the counter, but the early study results appear promising.