An hour (at most!) after I was moved into my postpartum hospital room after giving birth to my son, my midwife walked in and posed this question:
Which option would I like to go with for birth control?
Birth control? I’d given birth to my first child only minutes before and the first thing she wanted to talk about was how not to have another one? That was the first time I really worried that this parenting gig wasn’t going to be all the sunshine and butterflies everyone made it out to be. I mean, for goodness sake, the message was basically “congratulations on this beautiful child, now let’s not go and have another one, okay?”
While I was caught off guard with the suddenness of the question, I can admit now it was a valid one to ask, and probably a good time to ask it. As I stumbled to get my composure back, the midwife explained my options: the traditional birth control pill, a ring, a shot, or — now that I’d given birth — an IUD. I have to admit, the idea of a birth control method I didn’t have to think about again for five years didn’t sound half bad. The birthing process wasn’t far enough behind me to completely forget the pain — and for sure, I wasn’t ready to think about going through it all over again just yet.
Had my delivery taken place a few years from now, instead of two years ago, there might have been yet another option on the table, however. An option that would let me potentially set it and forget it — not for five years like the current longest-lasting hormonal birth control (the IUD), but for 16 years. If 16 years sounds like a big commitment, in this case it isn’t. The birth control option I’m talking about is one that you can turn on and off via remote control. (Yes, you read that right).
This seemingly out-of-this-world bionic birth control comes in the form of a chip that can be implanted just under the skin in either the butt, arm, or abdomen. The user then has the option to (wirelessly!) turn it on or off on her own, without a trip to the doctor. It’s 20mm long, seven mm thick, and contains levonorgestrel, a hormone already used in common birth controls like the pill and hormonal IUDs, as well as Plan B. This new remote control birth control’s tiny chip will contain sealed compartments that release 30mg of the hormone a day when it receives an electric current from an internal battery. Doctors will also be able to control the dose via remote.
This new device is being backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and being manufactured by MicroCHIPS, Inc. What’s more, Bill Gates himself suggested the idea. It’s expected to be introduced in the United States in 2018, if granted FDA approval.
It’s refreshing to hear about an option that gives women more control, more flexibility, and potentially fewer doctor’s visits when it comes to birth control. The company states it will undergo precautions to ensure safety from hacking.
Now if only they can come up with a fail-proof way not to lose a TV remote for 16 years.