MyUD: A smart intrauterine contraceptive device

MyUD team members Molly Eron, Danielle Frye, Kathryn McGarty, Veronica Vila, Chenglin Zhu

Spotlight on Undergraduate Design Team "MyUD"


Team Members:

Molly EronMolly Eron – My passion for medicine and strong aptitude for scientific experimentation led me to the field of biomedical engineering. I have always wanted to be a doctor but also genuinely enjoyed formulating creative solutions to pressing problems through research projects in high school. BME intertwines these two interests perfectly, and Cornell seemed like the best place to pursue the major because of its cutting-edge research, far-reaching connections and the community’s inspiring spirit and drive. After participating in research involving 3D printed intravaginal rings over the summer after my sophomore year, I felt empowered to support women’s reproductive health through BME efforts. I was excited to join forces with my BME classmates this year for this senior design project to address malposition issues associated with intrauterine devices. This experience has been so rewarding as we have gotten to apply our technical design and research-related engineering skills to a real-world project. I have worked primarily on sensor fabrication and the detection of abnormal deformations of the arms and stem of IUDs, but I’ve also enjoyed learning about the many other electrical and manufacturing aspects of our project.

Danielle FryeDanielle Frye – I have always been interested in the medical field, so pursuing a major in biomedical engineering seemed a natural fit. Since high school I have also been a major advocate for women’s health and have worked on various engineering projects such as the development of a baby monitor to detect abnormal heart rate and temperature in a car seat. At Cornell I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dr. Jonathan Butcher on a device to determine the likelihood of premature birth in women. My studies in BME have afforded me a unique perspective on how my knowledge and skills can be applied to improve the lives of many, particularly those with whom I share common experiences.

Katie McGartyKatie McGarty - I first learned about biomedical engineering in high school and found that my natural love for math and science and initial interest in pursuing a medical degree made selecting this major an easy choice. When looking at colleges, it was clear that Cornell University was going to provide opportunities ranging from research to project teams that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Most importantly, I knew coming in that Cornell Engineering was approximately 50% women, which would ensure that I truly had a place in the classroom. The MyUD senior design project drew my attention because of its combination of women’s health and medical device design. This experience has allowed me to understand that practical side of the classroom material and our team the opportunity to grow troubleshooting complex issues.

Veronica VilaVeronica Vila - I underwent human growth hormone therapy for approximately four years when I was young, and this was my first introduction into the world of biomedical engineering, device design and drug delivery. Pursuing a BME degree with a business minor perfectly combined my interests in the medical field with my interest in entrepreneurship, design and innovation. Cornell University’s amazing research opportunities as well as hands-on experiences through project teams was the perfect place to combine these interests. I was motivated to work on the MyUD project because of my passion for women’s health and desire to create something that could have a positive effect for women. It has been a great experience  working with my peers to develop communication and teamworking skills, which will benefit me in my future career.

Chenglin ZhuChenglin Zhu - The BME coursework has expanded my knowledge while the design project--although challenging--enabled me to transition from solving theoretical problems in class to creating devices from scratch with peers. Studying BME has given me the direction and purpose to pursue my passion for solving real-life medical issues in the future.


What problem are you addressing?

Approximately 159 million women worldwide use an intrauterine device (IUD) as their form of long-term contraceptive. Unfortunately, 10-20% of these women will experience some form of IUD malpositioning, a condition that increases the risks for serious complications such as an ectopic pregnancy or life-threatening bleeding. 

What are the current solutions?

Current methods to verify the position of an implanted IUD are either self-checking or getting an ultrasound at the clinic. However, self-checking is both inconvenient and inaccurate, and an ultrasound requires a visit to a clinician’s office, which can be very costly.

What is your solution?

The “MyUD” novel intrauterine device incorporates a strain-sensitive circuit and resonant inductive coupling technology to detect malpositioning of the IUD within the uterus. This innovative device is engineered to alert a user of any abnormal strain on the IUD that may lead to expulsion, displacement, perforation, or embedment. By providing this critical information, this device enables the user to address any concerns they may have regarding their IUD’s placement, either by locating it themselves or promptly scheduling an appointment with their healthcare provider.

What was the design experience like?

We had the opportunity to engage in stakeholder interviews with IUD users and clinicians that really helped shape the needs aspect of our project. These interviews were also a great chance for us to hear from users who had been affected by malpositioning and their experiences with the product. Through this process we were able to see that our device was needed, and had potential to benefit women of reproductive age.

Over the course of this project, we also learned the importance of having an interdisciplinary mindset when working through product development. Our process forced us to look at our device design through different lenses, taking into account the engineering design, marketing, costs and healthcare considerations needed for successful commercialization.

What’s the next step for your project?

We received some positive and helpful feedback from our participation in Cornell’s Engineering Innovation Competition (EIC). This feedback has encouraged us to pursue a patent for our device. We believe MyUD has amazing potential and we are excited about what comes next.

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