Scientists are strongly pursuing the development of a male birth control pill that can prove to be a new contraceptive alternative to condoms.
Similar to female birth control methods, male birth control pills act by decreasing sperm count to a level that does not favor conception. Testosterone and progestin are hormones that limit the sperm production, and the pills are chemically made up of these 2 hormones.
Particularly due to side effects and negative reactants like alcohol, the pills are not deemed as safe or effective for everyone regardless of the fact that hormone birth control pills saw success in 95 percent of the men taking them.
Irrespective of these findings, as reported in the New York Times, revival in male interest to develop the first safe and risk-free, effective, and reversible male birth control method has invoked the interest of Scientists world over.
A pill called gamendazole that disrupts sperm maturation has been developed by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Dr. John K. Armory of the University of Washington is another challenger in the race for developing the male birth control. Dr. Armory is studying a drug that can treat worm infections coincidentally blocking retinoic acid production thereby causing infertility.
However, like any of the other pills developed, it is counterproductive when the pill is consumed with alcohol because the user falls ill.
According to the New York Times report, Debra J. Wolgemuth, geneticist at Columbia University Medical Center, is working on creating a drug that limits sperm production without ill effects during alcohol consumption.
There are currently two drugs the market that prevent ejaculation: one used for treating hypertension and the other for psychotic behavior. However, the intended treatment purpose of these drugs will need to be altered in order to make them effective birth control products in men.
Apart from contraceptive pills for men, the director of the Male Contraception Information Project, Elaine Lissner, told the New York Times regarding her endeavor to develop a gel injection that can be used as birth control. A gel called RISUG (Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) that is injected into the scrotum is currently under testing. However, the reversible nature of RISUG has not been proved by research.
In order to limit sperm production for months together, Lissner also suggested a possible (not proven) birth control method that is performed by “heating” the testes with high frequency sound waves.
In a statement to the New York Times, Lissner said: “I can imagine a world where you take your car in every six months to get your oil changed and go next door and get your ultrasound for 50 bucks.”
Scientists are working towards resolving both long-term and short term side effects of these alternative sperm-blocking birth control methods for men due to their overwhelming responses dictated through surveys.
The side effects of birth control pills developed for men involve risks like heart health, cholesterol, skin appearance, and adverse moods that are similar to those observed in women.
Owing to these potential long-term side effects seen with current male birth control pills, Pharmaceutical companies have not yet authorized any of them.
According to the New York Times, a conference will be hosted in October by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to showcase current research for possible male birth control pills.