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Birth Control’s Newest Form Is Crazier Than You Think

Written on July 17, 2014 at 11:19 am , by

Oral birth control? So two years ago.

That’s what Bill Gates thinks, anyway.

The do-it-all man has been planning to fund the development of a remote-controlled birth control ($4.6 million-worth of funding, to be exact!), and now a Massachusetts startup company called MicroCHIPS is bringing the concept to life using technology invented by MIT engineer Robert Langer in the ‘90s.

Placed under the skin of the upper arm, butt or abdomen, the microchip releases levonorgestrel—a birth-control hormone currently in many contraceptives—but only when you want it to. You can turn the device on and off with the flip of a switch. When on, an electrical current melts a part of the chip and 30 micrograms of the hormone is released each day. The chip supposedly lasts up to 16 years, and the MicroCHIPS team wants it on the market by 2018.

“Thirty micrograms sounds low and sounds like it might not interfere with ovulation but might interfere with implantation,” says Sarah Berga, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and associate dean of women’s health research at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “The question I would have is what does it do to your estrogen levels across time and would they be too low?”

A contraceptive that only interferes with implantation might not be as effective, but it would be safer, says Berg. “You would be interfering less with ovarian function and potentially less with estrogen levels, therefore promoting better bone health, better mood, and the kinds of things that we think estrogens are good for,” she says.

Carolyn Westhoff, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and obstetrics and gynecology professor at Columbia University, says the microchip is an “interesting idea with lots of potential,” but that more work still needs to be done to evaluate the chip’s safety and effectiveness. Pre-clinical testing is scheduled to begin next year, but the chips will need to be encrypted to secure wireless data before MicroCHIPS sends an application to the FDA.

What do you think? Would you use remote controlled birth control over the more traditional varieties?

Photo courtesy of MicroCHIPS

More from FITNESS: 

Your Guide to Choosing the Right Birth Control for You

Are Your Birth Control Pills Hurting Your Sex Drive?

Should I Stop Taking the Pill at 35?

7 Reasons to Schedule Your Next Medical Checkup

Written on May 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm , by

Are you healthy from the inside out? (Photo by Laura Doss)

You can see the results of hitting the gym and eating more veggies in the mirror, which keeps you motivated to maintain these smart habits. But sometimes, it’s what you can’t see from the outside that is a better reflection of your true health. That’s why regular visits to your doctor are so important! As National Women’s Health Week comes to a close, schedule your yearly physical (if you haven’t had one recently) and take along this wellness checklist, courtesy of Planned Parenthood, to ensure the appointment covers all your bases.

  • Birth Control: Talk to your doc about the best option for you. (Read up here before you go to learn about some of the most effective and popular picks.)
  • Breast Cancer Screening: Help detect cancer early, during its most treatable stages.
  • Pap Test and HPV Test: Screen for cervical cancer warning signs.
  • Pelvic Exam: Help detect signs of infection, protect against infertility and promote safe and healthy pregnancies.
  • Pregnancy: If you’re thinking about becoming a mom, discuss pre-pregnancy health and planning for your growing family.
  • STDs: Testing protects you and your partners. Should you ask for STD testing? Find out by taking this quiz.
  • Etc.: Find out which other screenings (bone health, diabetes, heart health) may be beneficial for you by using the interactive screening tool at womenshealth.gov/whw.

How’s Your Fertility IQ?

Written on April 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm , by

(Image courtesy of MERCK)

Happy news today in the celebrity world: After years of dealing with fertility issues, Giuliana and Bill Rancic will soon be parents with the help to a surrogate! It’s also National Infertility Awareness Week, a good time to brush up on fertility facts—especially if you’ve got baby making on the brain. See the larger version of this infographic. –>

This item from the April issue of FITNESS answers a key question a lot of women have.

Q “I’m trying to get pregnant. How long should I wait before seeing a specialist?”

A One year if you’re under 35, six months if you’re 35 or older or not having regular menstrual cycles. “Ninety percent of fertile couples will be pregnant within 12 months if they stop using birth control and have sex whenever they want,” says William Schoolcraft, M.D., author of If at First You Don’t Conceive. “If it doesn’t happen within a year, that’s a clue something is up.” Time is the biggest enemy: “After 35, there’s a tick downward in egg quality every six to 12 months,” Dr. Schoolcraft says. So don’t wait too long. Ninety-one percent of couples seeing a fertility specialist say they wish they had gone to one sooner, according to a recent survey.

Merck conducted the survey mentioned. The company recently teamed up with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and today launched fertilityguide.com, as part of their It’s Just a Conversation campaign to get couples talking about infertility. Visit the site to take a fertility knowledge quiz, find a fertility specialist in your area and download a checklist of questions to ask your doctor.

More from FITNESS:

Can You ID Your V?

Written on July 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm , by

Can you ID your V?

OK, this is funny/interesting, so I had to share. Nearly 70 percent of women are unable to identify the major parts of their lady parts, according to the folks at Summer’s Eve. That stat seems super high to me, so I took their ID the V quiz (Warning: Possibly NSFW, depending on your workplace) to see how I’d do. Rest assured, you’re in the hands of a competent health editor–I got them all right. (Whew!)

How well do you know your body? Let us know in the comments after you take the quiz. No worries if you have some wrong answers. It’s never too late for a little sex ed! Bonus for those who ace it: Summer’s Eve will donate $1 to i am that girl, a nonprofit that helps further women’s empowerment and body awareness.