Researchers Create First Male Birth Control Pill. Here’s How It Works
We know of condoms and vasectomies, but aside from that, male contraceptives are limited and given the downsides to both means, researchers have been looking into some ‘interesting’ possibilities.
While it is still too early to tell for sure, a new male contraceptive might be here and at this point in development is showing hardly any side effects. On the female side of the spectrum, female birth control has many options, however most, if not all of them, affect the hormone cycles which can never really be a good thing. Each individual is different, responds differently to hormone adjusting substances. Given our current growing population situation, there is clearly a need for birth control options and so the search for other methods is understandable. However, anytime we get into genetic modification, surgery or anything irreversible, there are clear risks involved and thus the search for safe contraceptives remains. Researchers have developed a pill that has the ability to temporarily render a male mouse infertile. With these preliminary tests complete, human application can now be possible, but are there side effects involved? According to the study: “The problem with such [current contraceptive] approaches is that they have intolerable side effects such as affecting male sexual activity or causing long-term irreversible effects on fertility. In addition, some strategies may transmit detrimental changes to future offspring. This manuscript describes a male contraceptive target within the autonomic nervous system, which would not affect the long-term viability of sperm nor the sexual or general health of males.” While the research is still young, and methods cannot be considered the most natural, researchers appear to be onto something that is providing little to no side effects. Is this claim completely true? We don’t know enough yet to say.
The research and methods used focus on the epididymis. This is a long, coiled tube behind the testicles that allows sperm to mature normally, which is essential for normal fertility. Essentially what the pill does is renders the protein receptors in the epididymis temporarily useless so that sperm cannot gain enough life to become fertile. According to the study, “In addition, they provide conclusive proof of concept that pharmacological antagonism of the P2X1-purinoceptor and α1A-adrenoceptor provides a safe and effective therapeutic target for a non-hormonal, readily reversible male contraceptive.” Whether or not this method is in fact viable and whether or not it comes with side effects will certainly be tested further in the near future. Aside from watching the above video, be sure to check out the following links as they provide quite a bit of research and information around the topic. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/11/27/1318624110 http://monash.edu/news/show/dual-protein-knockout-could-lead-to-new-male-contraceptive http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20130312-25063.html http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/male-bc-pill2.htm http://healthland.time.com/2013/12/03/scientists-hail-male-contraception-breakthrough/ .
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