Lifestyle
Fabric contraceptive may be as effective as condoms: Study

The electrospun fibers can release chemicals or physically block sperm.

Credits: COURTESY PHOTO

Researchers at the University of Washington say they're developing a female contraceptive made from electrically spun, ultra-thin fabric that could protect against pregnancy and HIV.

"Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy," researcher Kim Woodrow said. "We have the drugs to do that. It's really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it."

The researchers used antiretroviral HIV drugs and polymers to create a "gooey" fluid. Then they used a process called electrospinning, which uses an electric field to spin fluid into nanometre-scale fibres.

What they ended up with is a very thin material that can block sperm while releasing HIV drugs and chemical contraceptives.

Researchers say the fabric could be inserted into the vagina or used as a coating on birth-control rings and other similar products.

They published a study about their ongoing project in the journal PLOS ONE.

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