New Hormone-Free Contraception Channels Crustaceans

Sweden’s got a new form of contraception for women, which uses a substance derived from chitin to tighten the barrier lining the body’s cavities.

The distribution of chitosan over a mucin drop is shown in flourescence. Image: Thomas Crouzier
The distribution of chitosan over a mucin drop is shown in flourescence. Image: Thomas Crouzier

A recent article from KTH had good new for couples that don’t want to get pregnant. Apparently researchers in Sweden are cross-linking mucous gel with chitosan, a polysaccharide derived from chitin, the material that makes up the hard shells of crustaceans. The new material tightens the mucin polymer mess barrier that lines the mucosal epithelium in our body’s cavities, which is a technical way of saying it tightens up the barrier to the eggs.

When a woman ovulates, the typically impervious mucous barrier loosens up, allowing sperm to penetrate and fertilize eggs. The polymeric material eliminates this possibility to prevent fertilization, yielding a contraceptive that is free of hormones and side effects. Sign me up.

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