Seaweed beads to rival contraceptive pill
Since the contraceptive pill was first created in the ‘60s, taking it as a form of birth control has become the go-to method for women all over the world. In fact it’s estimated that over 100 million women use it, and it has enabled us ladies to take control of our bodies. However the wonder drug isn’t without its side effects, with weight gain and mood swings common pitfalls of the pill. Less common, but more severe side effects can include blood clots and even breast cancer.
However soon there could be a new birth control on the block, which may rival the pill in popularity. Scientists have found that artificial eggs made from seaweed can trap sperm, preventing pregnancy. The ZP2 peptide beads have been trialled on mice, and proved a massive success, meaning the method could soon be used on humans. The minuscule beads – are so small that eight million would fit on a little finger nail. They are made from a material extracted from seaweed that is coated in a substance found on the outside of women’s eggs that sperm latch on to. Once inserted into the womb, they act as a snare and trap sperm. Results are long lasting but not permanent, and because they contain no hormones there will be none of the side effects associated with the pill and other current forms of birth control.
The beads could also be used to choose the best sperm for people undergoing IVF.
Results were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Effective contraception is critical for family planning,” researcher Jurrien Dean, of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, said. “This strategy provides highly-effective, non-hormonal, long-term but reversible contraception in female mice.“We envisage that the sperm-decoy strategy could one day be translated to reproductive medicine to provide effective female contraception.”