Birth control pill for men being developed


June 9, 2011

Researchers are developing a birth control pill for men (Generic pill image: Alina Zienowicz)

Researchers are developing a birth control pill for men (Generic pill image: Alina Zienowicz)

Following this week's coverage of the reversible male contraception method, it appears that a birth control pill for men is also in the works. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center are developing what may be the first non-steroidal, oral contraceptive for men. The team of scientists, led by Dr. Debra J. Wolgemuth, discovered that low doses of a compound that interferes with retinoic acid receptors (RARs), stopped sperm production with no apparent side effects. In addition, just like the birth control pill for women, normal levels of fertility could be restored almost immediately after the dose has been ceased.

"It can be taken orally as a pill, avoiding the injection process. It also appears to have a very rapid effect on sperm production and an even more rapid recovery when fertility is desired," said Dr. Sanny S. W.Chung, associate research scientist.

During her study, Dr. Wolgemuth came across a paper by Bristol-Myers Squibb, relating to a compound that was being tested for the treatment of skin and inflammatory diseases. The paper described the compound as being "a testicular toxin" and whilst these findings made Squibb's team abandon further use of the compound, it may have been exactly what Dr. Wolgemuth needed to bring into her lab. Her team later successfully tested the drug in mice, and discovered that it caused vitamin A deficiency and a loss of function of RARalpha - perfect conditions to create infertility.

"We were intrigued," said Dr. Wolgemuth. "One company's toxin may be another person's contraceptive."

Advantages of using a non-steroidal contraception avoid side effects such as diminished libido, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and benign prostatic hyperplasia, commonly associated with steroidal hormone-based methods. Although vitamin A levels are usually linked with maintaining good eye sight, the researchers are confident that the new drug will have no effect on vision. "We have seen no side effects, so far, and our mice have been mating quite happily," said Dr. Wolgemuth.

Whilst they are having great success with their mice, the next step for Dr. Wolgemuth and her Columbia team is to make sure that the drug is safe to use on men. They will now investigate how long fertility can be stopped and then recover after administration of the drug has stopped.

"We hope that in the not so distant future, we may finally have more choices for people," said Dr. Chung.

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

So now dudes have an opportunity to remind themselves how big of a slut they are? Can you at least make them in the shape of a naked lady...and every order come with Old Spice product coupons. Has anyone even considered the psychological effect this could have on a 15 year old, mildy effeminate, very confused, individual? That said... I think it\'s great. Put the whole world on the pill. \"You breed TOO much!\"

Shaun Patrick

Hum, given the choice between a reversable shot that stays in one part of my body for 10 years and has not shown side effects in humans in 15 years of preliminary testing... and a pill that causes infertility through vitamin deficiency? I\'ll take the shot, even if it\'s to my scrotum.

Charles Bosse

@ Bosse. When they first tested the female pill in Puerto Rico in the sixties they also tested a male pill.

The male pill worked but some subjects experienced a \"slight\" shrinkage of the testicles. Somehow that was enought to derail the male pill.

The female pill sailed on with continued dosage alterations in spite of numerous dropouts, some deaths and a grocery list of side effects that women to this day are willing to leave unread in the puill box.

Contraceptive producers dont give a damn who they damage as long as they get to keep your money.

But maybe you believe you will be able to successfully sue the company after you develop a strange auto immune disease linked to these methods.

All I can tell you is ignorance is bliss when it is folly to be wise. To be sure I would rather live without ever finding out their problems by being on the recieving end.

Chris D

I'd end up with 50 kids with that thing ! I'm darn lucky my head is attached to my body and I don't forget it on the way to work in the Uh, no thank you. How about coming up with a cure for all the crazy STD's out there scientists. We've got a dozen methods of birth control already out there.

"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except herpes....that shit will come back with you........"

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