Birth control can be a great tool for preventing an unplanned pregnancy, but when you’ve already got mom brain it can be hard to make sure you take it correctly every day. That’s what makes a new kind of birth control such a game-changer, as this micro-needle birth control patch means all you’d have to do is give yourself a little tap once a month.

According to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a patch that uses dissolvable micro-needles to inject levonorgestrel, a common hormonal medication that prevents pregnancy.

photo: Christopher Moore/Georgia Tech via EurekAlert

All users need to do is apply the patch to their skin and the tiny micro-needles break off, implant themselves under the surface of the skin (where they dissolve) and slowly release the drug over time. Despite the tiny needles, the entire process is painless. The price tag is also pain-free—with the researchers reporting that each patch should only cost about one dollar.

Don’t call your OB/GYN just yet, however. So far the drug has only been tested successfully on rats, but the researchers are hopeful that it will have similar results in humans.

Mark Prausnitz, a regents’ professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and author of the research paper, said in a statement to EurekAlert, “Because we are using a well-established contraceptive hormone, we are optimistic that the patch will be an effective contraceptive. We also expect that possible skin irritation at the site of patch application will be minimal, but these expectations need to be verified in clinical trials.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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