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Biomaterials and Contraception: Promises and Pitfalls

  • Isabella Claure
  • Deborah Anderson
  • Catherine M. Klapperich
  • Wendy Kuohung
  • Joyce Y. WongEmail author
S.I. : Biomaterials - Engineering Cell Behavior

Abstract

The present state of reproductive and sexual health around the world reveals disparities in contraceptive use and effectiveness. Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection transmission rates remain high even with current prevention methods. The 20th century saw a contraceptive revolution with biomedical innovation driving the success of new contraceptive technologies with central design concepts and materials. Current modalities can be broadly categorized according to their mode of function: reversible methods such as physical/chemical barriers or hormonal delivery devices via systemic (transdermal and subcutaneous) or localized (intrauterine and intravaginal) administration, and nonreversible sterilization procedures such as tubal ligation and vasectomy. Contraceptive biomaterials are at present dominated by well-characterized elastomers such as polydimethylsiloxane and ethylene vinyl acetate due to their favorable material properties and versatility. Contraceptives alter the normal function of cellular components in the reproductive systems to impair fertility. The purpose of this review is to highlight the bioengineering design of existing methods, explore novel adaptations, and address notable shortcomings in current contraceptive technologies.

Keywords

Barrier technologies Hormonal delivery devices Bioengineering design STI prevention Reproductive health 

Abbreviations

SARC

Short-acting reversible contraception

LARC

Long-acting reversible contraception

MPT

Multipurpose prevention technologies

IUD

Intrauterine device

IVR

Intravaginal ring

STI

Sexually transmitted infection

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

HSV

Herpes simplex virus

GnRH

Gonadotropin releasing hormone

FSH

Follicle stimulating hormone

LH

Luteinizing hormone

CFTR

Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator

LB

Lactobacillus

PDMS

Polydimethylsiloxane

PVA

Polyvinyl alcohol

PEG

Polyethylene glycol

PVP

Polyvinylpyrrolidone

PEVA

Polyethylene vinyl acetate

PET

Polyethylene terephthalate

RISUG

Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance

SMA

Styrene maleic anhydride

Notes

Acknowledgments

I.C acknowledges support from the National Institutes of Health training grant at Boston University, T32 EB006359. DA receives support from NIH grant U54 HD095957. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Biomedical EngineeringBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Obstetrics and GynecologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.MedicineBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Mechanical EngineeringBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  5. 5.Division of Materials Science and EngineeringBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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