A breakthrough study which has been shown to bring about temporary infertility in male mice, could see the development of a male contraceptive pill.
Such a drug could help stop millions of unwanted pregnancies worldwide by focusing for the first time on men’s role in family planning.
Researchers from Monash University have said that the new treatment acted like a temporary chemical vasectomy, achieving 100 per cent infertility rates in mice.
The drug works by blocking two proteins essential for sperm to travel through the male reproductive system.
Previous attempts to develop contraceptives for men have focused on altering the sperm to make them dysfunctional. But the fear was whether such techniques would be reversible.
However Dr Sab Ventura, the study’s lead researcher, says this version would still produce normal sperm and only inhibit the sperm’s function when the drug is taken.
“It would block the transport of sperm and then if you’re a young guy and you get to the stage where you wanted to start fathering children, you stop taking it and everything should be okay,” Dr Ventura told reporters adding that their shouldn’t be any long-term side effects for users.
The pill would most likely be taken in a daily dose, much like the female contraceptive pill, Dr Ventura explained.
Dr Ventura also believes that the drug comes at an ideal time when men’s attitudes towards contraception have changed.
“A lot of young males have been shown in surveys to be just as worried about making females pregnant as females are about getting pregnant,” he argued.
“Our technique is good because it’s not hormonal so males won’t be afraid to take it, it’s easily reversible; so young people could take it and still have viable sperm, and it’s not going to have any future effects on offspring.”
A similar drug that inhibits one of the two proteins that are blocked with the contraceptive pill is already on the market, used in the treatment of prostate disease.
This means that the researchers would only have to find a way to block the other protein for the contraceptive pill to be available on the market, which could be as soon as the next decade.
Do you think a contraceptive pill will be popular among men? Can you see the merit in having such a drug available on the market? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.