A new study shows special jewelry could be a new form of birth control

Would you believe that putting on an earring could suffice as your birth control for the day? As crazy as it sounds, it might actually not be that far away from being realized.

According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, a report published in the Journal of Controlled Release describes a technique for administering contraceptive hormones through special backings on jewelry. That's right! Accessories like earrings, rings, watches or necklaces can one day provide you with the right medication that works as a form of contraception.

Under this method, contraceptive hormones are contained in patches applied to portions of the jewelry that come in contact with the skin, allowing the drugs to be fully absorbed into the body.

Although the concept has yet to be tested on humans, initial experiments suggest this specially-made jewelry may deliver the proper amount of hormones administered by a standard contraception method. The goal is so that the jewelry may work in place of other commonly known forms of contraception, such as a birth control pill.

“The more contraceptive options that are available, the more likely it is that the needs of individual women can be met,” said Mark Prausnitz, a Regents Professor and the J. Erskine Love Jr. Chair at the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech.

“Because putting on jewelry may already be part of a woman’s daily routine, this technique may facilitate compliance with the drug regimen," he added. "This technique could more effectively empower some women to prevent unintended pregnancies.”

Contraceptive jewelry was originally designed for use in developing countries, where the ability to receive health care services was limited. Without access to long-acting forms of birth control — such as injectables, implants and IUDs — this option appeared to be the most practical, Prausnitz said. 

Out of all of the accessories listed, earring backs and watches seem to be the most effective for administering drugs, since they remain in close contact with the skin to allow drug transfer, Prausnitz, along with his fellow colleagues Mohammad Mofidfar and Laura O'Farrell, noted in their study. The dose delivered by a patch is generally proportional to the area of skin contact.

If all goes well with testing, Prausnitz and his team hope to improve user compliance with drug regimens that require regular dosages. Beyond contraceptives, the jewelry-based technique might also be used for delivering other drugs through the skin.

“Pharmaceutical jewelry introduces a novel delivery method that may make taking contraceptives more appealing,” said Prausnitz in a press release. “Making it more appealing should make it easier to remember to use it.”

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