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Bloated idea of contraception, time to change

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Picture credit: somersetcsh.co.uk
Picture credit: somersetcsh.co.uk

Contraception is an extremely amorphous and misinterpreted medical phenomenon in a close knitted society like India’s. It turns out to be contentious especially when the person concerned is a teenager. Adhering to the scientific definition of contraception, the terminology encompasses the termination of pregnancy through variegated methods.

You need a contraceptive pill?’, ‘Will I gain weight if I gobble contraceptive pills?’, ‘Contraceptive pills might reduce my fertility,’ are some of the most talked of expressions when a woman weighs the chances of getting pregnant. This year’s Contraception Day aims at making people aware about the widely ‘accepted’ misnomers about contraception.

Wide opened eyes, strained brows and an awe struck expression are some of the unbefitting predispositions a woman- especially a teenage girl- might run into on demanding a contraceptive pill. The man standing behind the counter, despite being aware of her preconditions, wouldn’t fail to further discomfort her by reiterating the name of the contraceptive pill incessantly till a million eyebrows in the shop get raised.

Picture credit: asianetindia.com
Picture credit: asianetindia.com

Kya chahiye (He shouts) I-Pill?Bhaiya isko I-Pill chahiye…this is what the man at the counter had to say when I asked for contraceptive pills,” retorted 20-year-old Sheereen Ahmad, a Delhi University student, while recollecting her horrid experience at a medical shop.

A condom in itself is a cock-a-hoop tale that titillates and excites teenagers. The idea of contraception often wanes amid the exhilaration related to the use of condoms. Often, due to the tickling, breathtaking condom advertisements sported on television, people tend to get wooed and misbegotten without being apprised of the main purport of the same.

More than a tool of contraception, condoms have boiled down to a form of amusement for many in India. Wahi Sunny Leone wala ad na?” or “Dude have you ever seen a condom…let us buy one,” these are some of the most common expressions exemplifying the brouhaha over a poor condom.

Picture credit: cdn.bgr.com
Picture credit: cdn.bgr.com

The abortion laws in our country, further, shed light on the plight of contraception or adversities that a woman gets subjected to when they opt for an abortion. A teenager, who might have gotten pregnant, if opts for an abortion ends up getting subjected to a string of difficulties. First, rendering abortion services to a girl who hasn’t attained her adulthood depends upon the clinic she decides to take to; it is solely the discretion of the medical practitioner who might or might not let her terminate the fetus. Moreover, girls fearing societal ostracization, take to untoward sources in their attempt at terminating pregnancy.

The looming disarray regarding contraception needs to get obliterated. Sex education and spaces for open deliberation on the same are some of the most sought after requirements of the day. Mockery and over rated ideation of condoms or contraceptive pills might lead to disillusionment and subsequent escalation of untoward instances. Instead of blowing condoms and finding ourselves dumb struck; let’s just accept the fact that pregnancy isn’t an isolated condition best suited for a married woman. Let’s delve into the nuances of contraception and broaden our outlook regarding the same.

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Researchers Have Successfully Created Artificial Placenta

Initial tests have already shown that the artificial placenta on the chip does in fact behave in a similar way to a natural placenta: small molecules are allowed to pass through, while large ones are held back, the researchers noted.

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Artificial placenta created in lab using 3D printing. Flickr
Artificial placenta created in lab using 3D printing. Flickr

Using a high-resolution 3D printing process, Austrian researchers have succeeded in creating an artificial placenta barrier on a chip, a development that can be used to investigate important aspects of nutrient transport from the mother to the foetus.

The placenta ensures the exchange of important substances between the mother and her unborn child, whilst simultaneously blocking other substances from passing through.

“The transport of substances through biological membranes plays an important role in various areas of medicine,” said Aleksandr Ovsianikov, professor at the TU Wien university in Vienna.

“These include the blood-brain barrier, ingestion of food in the stomach and intestine, and also the placenta.”

This can help provide clarity on how the exchange of glucose between mother and child takes place. Wikimedia Commons
This can help provide clarity on how the exchange of glucose between mother and child takes place. Wikimedia Commons

Studies have shown that diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure in the mother can affect the transport of substances to the foetus. Until now however, it has been almost impossible to investigate the way in which the many parameters involved interact in such cases.

Using the 3D printing made it possible to produce customised hydrogel membranes directly within microfluidic chips, which are then populated with placenta cells.

This can help provide clarity on how the exchange of glucose between mother and child takes place, the researchers said.

The novel chip consists of two areas — one represents the foetus, the other the mother. Using a specially developed femtosecond laser-based 3D printing process helped produce a partition between them — the artificial placenta membrane.

The high-resolution 3D printing involved a hydrogel with good biocompatibility.

Also Read: Obesity During Pregnancy May up Kid’s Risk of Epilepsy

“Based on the model of the natural placenta, we produce a surface with small, curved villi. The placenta cells can then colonise it, creating a barrier very similar to the natural placenta,” Ovsianikov explained.

Initial tests have already shown that the artificial placenta on the chip does in fact behave in a similar way to a natural placenta: small molecules are allowed to pass through, while large ones are held back, the researchers noted. (IANS)