Study Shows Possibility of Male Birth Control Pill

Male Birth Control Pill
Male Birth Control Pill – Photo credit: Gettyimages

Researchers in a recent study believe they have found a means to produce a non-hormonal contraceptive pill for males, which works by blocking an enzyme essential for a sperm’s capacity to swim.

According to the findings published in the journal Nature Communications, inhibiting this enzyme in lab mice with an experimental chemical effectively prevented conception.

“The effect started within 30 minutes after dosing and the mice were completely infertile for the subsequent two hours. By the following day, the mice were completely normal. The compound did not adversely affect the mice in any way, and their sexual behavior and ejaculate were completely normal” said co–senior researcher, Lonny Levin, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

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Such a strategy “would be a major accomplishment for the profession” if it could be demonstrated to be effective in people, according to Christopher Lindsey, programme officer at the U.S. National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, which assisted in funding the study.

Lindsey said “The benefit of this is that unlike a hormonal approach where you’d have to take that drug for days, weeks, sometimes months, this would work similar to Viagra. You would only have to take it maybe a short time back before engaging in sexual activity”.

In the United States, about half of pregnancies are unplanned, and the percentage is much higher among teens, according to the study’s data. This medication could completely change family planning.

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Levin and his associates looked into the possible effects of the experimental medication on a collection of lab mice to see whether a brief suppression of the enzyme might prevent conception. The substance was made particularly to inhibit soluble adenylyl cyclase.

Although activity levels of the male and female mice were as predicted, researchers reported that no pregnancies were seen. After then, the female mice’s sperm was unable to be revived.

The compound wore off three hours later, and males recovered their fertility.

The drug used in the mice was a “tool compound”—a chemical used in the laboratory to investigate whether this approach would work, Levin said. Further work needs to be done to find the right enzyme blocker for humans.

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“We don’t consider it sufficiently advanced for taking into humans. Our current studies are focused on getting improved versions which are suitable for taking into clinical trials, which we hope can begin in the next two to three years,” Levin said of the compound.

But the researchers say this study proves the concept—an on-demand pill for male contraception is possible.



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