Male Contraceptive Pill One Step Closer – New Method to Stop Sperm from Reaching The Ovule Discovered
A new study published in the journal PLoS Genetics reveals the possibility to stop sperm from swimming, thus setting the base for further research on the first male contraceptive pill. Researchers discovered a method to inhibit the energy supply that allows sperm to swim, thus being able to stop sperm from reaching its destination. Researchers from the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia suggest their current study could also suggest probable causes of male infertility.
The research team used laboratory mice for their tests. A mutation in the gene called RABL2 was used in the study. This gene was proven to be related to the protein fuel deliverance to the axial filament (the sperm’s tail). After inducing the mutation, researchers discovered that not only was the axial filament 17% shorter, but the sperm production also went down by almost 50%.
Professor Moira O’Bryan, the lead author of the paper, suggests that a viable pill for male contraception would be able to inhibit the action of the RABL2 gene, rather than changing it permanently. The results of the study showed that all the mice who had the mutated gene had inert sperm and were also proven to be infertile. However, according to professor O’Bryan, their behavior was not affected.
She notes that “The challenge with developing the male pill isn’t rendering the sperm infertile, but turning them back on again”. Researchers found that the gene is not only located in the testicles, but also in the brain, the kidneys and the liver. Researchers from the Cambridge and Newcastle Universities were also involved in the study.
According to precedent studies, almost 55% of the patients questioned are willing to try the male contraceptive pill. However, a recent study from the United Kingdom, published in 2010, reveals that women don’t trust that men would take the pill on a daily basis. There are currently other forms of male contraception, which includes a monthly injection. It’s based on testosterone and the result is the regulation of two brain chemicals that temporarily block sperm production.
According to a clinical trial conducted in China, which involved 1,000 male patients, over a period of two years, these injections were proven to have an efficiency of preventing pregnancy of almost 95%. However, 30% of the patients stopped participating in the clinical trial due to side effects which included acne, mood swings and a lower sex drive.
An interesting alternative comes from a research that has been presented in Houston, 3 moths ago at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society. Scientists then managed to create a contraceptive gel called Nestorone (a combination of synthetic progestin and testosterone).
Another viable option for male contraceptives is a pill that blocks sperm from being released during ejaculation. This pill uses a combination of chemicals that are also found in anti-psychotic and blood pressure medication used almost 4 decades ago. These chemicals paralyze specific muscles found in the male reproductive system, thus blocking semen. Studies have revealed that these pills have no side effects or adverse effects on sexual performance or libido. According to researchers from the King’s College Hospital from London, the pill can be used anytime because it takes 3 hours to reach the desired effect, which lasts for approximately 48 hours.