Team:UCSC/Applied Design

Applied Design

Applied Design: Localizing Contraceptives

Our final product will introduce contraceptive production into regions that lack the option of commercially available contraceptives or where commercial contraceptives are not affordable to the general public. This would have the two-fold effect of increasing the agency of women in these communities to control the size of their families while also disrupting the region’s dependence on contraceptives produced and distributed in other locations. To ensure that our product design is suitable for these areas and is plausible for production and distribution, our team considered a number of aspects and worked to address each of them individually:

divider image

Social stigma of contraceptives:

Some of the areas that our product will serve have social stigmas against contraception that discourages their use. Our product will be able to be shipped discreetly and maintained simply enough to be hidden. Moreover, since dried yeast is a common household item, it should be possible to keep aliquots of our dried product in plain sight while still remaining inconspicuous. Users would be able to start their own cultures with an arbitrarily small amount of dried Y. lipolytica.

Difficulties developing cultures:

Some users of our product may find it difficult to maintain environments controlled enough to allow for the growth of yeast cultures. Our choice of using Y. lipolytica was informed by its ability to grow in a variety of different media, including dairy waste, which is common in agricultural societies. So far, all our contacts located in rural communities confirmed that they have easy access to dairy waste. We also confirmed adequate growth of Y. lipolytica in raw milk while in lab settings.

Administration of contraceptives:

Our yeast strain is classified as a GRAS organism by the USFDA, and is safe for human consumption. Our final product will allow users to boil a yeast culture to stop progesterone production, dehydrate a culture to press into a tablet form, and ingest the tablet to absorb progesterone sublingually.

Opportunities for Entrepreneurship:

Due to the scalability of our product, large cultures could be grown just as easily as smaller ones, provided adequate stores of dairy waste. This would allow some users of our product to create distribution hubs or even allow an additional income stream for families who choose to use their own dairy waste to create large culture of our Y. lipolytica strain.