Thursday, July 17, 2014

MicroCHIPS: A Controversial Contraceptive

MicroCHIPS version of their new remote control contraceptive.  
Shown above is how the contraceptive is to be used upon its
release in 2018. Photo Credit
MicroCHIPS, a company stemming from Lexington, Massachusetts, has just recently introduced a potentially dangerous remote-control contraceptive alternative that they hope will hit the shelves beginning in 2018.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to help sponsor this endeavor as they hope to encourage more effective forms of birth control in place of common forms currently used, such as condoms and birth control pills.  The chip that MicroCHIPS has been working towards creating, can be inserted into either a woman’s abdomen, buttocks, or upper arm. It will be activated by a wireless connection through a remote control.

Inside of this chip there is a hermetic titanium and platinum seal that contains the hormone levonorgestrel, a hormone often found in birth control methods.  This hormone prevents fertilization, prevents a heavy menstrual cycle and can also alter the lining of the uterus to disallow for a fetus to continue growing in the womb.

To activate the release of the hormone in the body, a small battery is located on
the inside of the seal where an electrical current passes through the chip. This action slightly melts the seal enough for the proper amount of levonorgestrel to seep into the bloodstream.  This contraceptive is the first form of hormone based birth control to last for more than five years at a time.  In fact, one chip is said to contain enough levonorgestrel to last 16 years! 

You’re probably asking, Where does the remote control come into play?  Well, say that a person has decided to invest in this form of contraceptive.  To activate the chip to release the hormone every day, they would have the ability to turn the chip on via the remote control.  Similarly, if they wanted to try and have a baby, they could just as easily deactivate the contraceptive through the remote control.  In order for the chip to receive the wireless signal from the remote control, it must be placed skin distance from the chip.  As a security precaution, MicroCHIPS has made it so that  the remote is only effective if it is making direct contact with the skin located directly above the contraceptive chip.

This project, however, has its difficulties as well.
Although convenient in the sense that a women would not have to see a doctor to constantly get a shot, have operations to remove various forms of birth control, or even remember to take a pill each day,  there are several safety concerns regarding the security of the product.  Currently, MicroCHIPS is feeling out how to make the chip encrypted (a method in which a hacker can hack into a system, but is denied access to prevalent information) to ensure the security of the chip.  

MicroCHIP has also highlighted the fact that the remote must be used in direct contact with the skin in order to be effective, regarding this as a safety feature.

What MicroCHIP has not considered, is the danger of their product if somehow, the system is hacked into.  The controller can determine how much levonorgestrel is being released into the woman's body, which could be potentially fatal.  The hacker could also determine when the woman can become pregnant.  

Another aspect of this invention MicroCHIPS should consider is the responsibility of the female using the contraceptive; if she loses the remote, she could find herself in deep trouble.
Testing of this product will commence next year, in 2015.

If you find yourself considering this method of birth control, or someone you know is considering this alternative in the upcoming years, just be wary of the dangers that could persist despite what may seem like an effective contraceptive alternative.



  1. Nice job Meghan! I was really interested in this subjected when I first ward about it but I had only seen one article about it. It was really good to hear more about this technology which is sure to be a controversial issue.

  2. Thanks Meaghan! It really is, and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it as its release approaches!