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Implant Would Let Women Control Their Own Fertility

A company in Massachusetts has developed a contraceptive device that allows women to control their fertility.

Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lexington-based MicroCHIPS Inc. has created a wireless implant that can operate inside a woman's body for up to 16 years and allows her to control dosages of levonorgestrel, a contraceptive hormone used to prevent pregnancy.

"The ability to turn the device on and off provides a certain convenience factor for those who are planning their family," MicroChips president Robert Farra tells the BBC.

The 1.5 cm-wide device can be implanted under the skin of the buttocks, abdomen or upper arm. It can be turned off by remote control when a woman is ready to conceive.

The chip is currently in the experimentation stage, and the team is working on ensuring the security of the electronic device.

"Communication with the implant has to occur at skin-contact-level distance," Farra says. "Someone across the room cannot reprogram your implant."

MicroCHIPS says that the fertility-controlling implant could be available by 2018 if clinical trials in the United States are successful. The device will reportedly be submitted for FDA approval in the near future.