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Contraceptive Pill for Men Might Soon Become Reality

Contraceptive Pill for Men
Contraceptive Pill for Men Might Soon Become Reality. Credit: Bobjgalindo / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

After years of research, Dr. Jochen Buck and Dr. Lonny Levin of Weill Cornell Medicine have made a groundbreaking discovery that could shape family planning for generations: an experimental drug that has proven effective in halting sperm movement.

This revolutionary finding marks the dawning age of non-invasive male contraception; if successful in humans, it will open up new opportunities to couples around the world who wish to pursue their fertility goals with more freedom and convenience than ever before.

The study was Published in Nature Communications and mainly tested on mice for now. For thousands of years, men have only been able to rely upon condoms or vasectomies for contraception.

Male oral contraceptives have long been sought after, yet it remains an elusive goal due to the strict safety and side effect requirements. As Dr. Levin explains, this has caused a significant roadblock in research efforts regarding male contraception options.

How does the contraceptive pill work?

This new study reveals that a single dose of an inhibitor called TDI-11861 can effectively stop sperm in their tracks for several hours.

Mice were monitored and showed impaired motility for up to two and half hours, with some regaining movement after three hours – by 24 later; nearly all had regained full mobility.

After being administered TDI-11861, male mice displayed typical mating behaviors – but much to their surprise and the shock of observers, they failed to impregnate any female during 52 trials. In comparison, males given an inactive control substance were able to impregnate successfully in nearly one-third of attempts.

“Our inhibitor works within 30 minutes to an hour,” Dr. Balbach, a postdoctoral associate, said. “Every other experimental hormonal or nonhormonal male contraceptive takes weeks to bring sperm count down or render them unable to fertilize eggs.”

With the development of nonhormonal and hormonal male contraceptives, men could take control of their fertility, but those options had a reversal time duration of several weeks.

Dr. Balbach’s research highlights sAC inhibitors as a particularly promising option, given they only need to be taken when necessary, allowing day-to-day decisions on contraception without effects lasting weeks afterward like other forms.

Other methods of male contraception

Various non-hormonal methods of male contraception are also being investigated. They include the direct disablement of sperm, blocking of the vas deferens, and the targeting of Sertoli or Leydig cells to suppress sperm production.

To accomplish the latter, a polymer is injected into each vas deferens to physically restrict the transit of sperm and to create a temporary drop in pH, disrupting sperm head polarity. Once the plug has been dissolved, sperm may resume their regular function due to an injection of sodium bicarbonate.

According to News-Medical, during the course of the previous few decades, researchers in India have investigated this method. Although its long-term efficacy and safety have not been determined, it has been shown to be successful in temporarily inducing sterility for as long as a year.

Attaching molecules to the surface of sperm, which kills or severely damages them, is another potential way of male contraception. EPPIN is a surface protein unique to sperm that binds to seminal plasma protein. Anti-EPPIN antibodies that bind to this location reduce sperm motility and development.

Despite all these methods of male contraception, none of them are test clinically on humans because of several long-term potential side effects.

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