Scientists believe they are closer than ever to creating birth control pills for men, after years of attempts and failures trying to create a male pill that can rival the contraceptive options available to women since the 1960s.
Scientists from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy have taken a step forward by changing experimental compounds to develop a product that works for men and has no side effects. The male hormone testosterone has been identified as a potential male contraceptive as it can provide temporary infertility, but there are several flaws.
Julian Kyzer, a researcher working on the project stated: “at certain doses, testosterone causes infertility, but at those doses it doesn’t work for up to 20 percent of men, and it can cause side effects such as a decrease in ‘good’ cholesterol and weight gain.” Testosterone variations have been made in previous attempts at developing a male pill, including making it more soluble and increasing the length of time that it is effective.
The science behind it.
Scientists have been building on the breakthrough of discovering a particular enzyme, ESPL, that is found in the heads of the sperm and used to penetrate the egg. Understanding fertilisation at a molecular level, and exactly how the sperm is able to bind with and enter the egg, opens opportunities to identify molecules that can disrupt or block the fertilisation event.
A safe oral contraception for men would change the lives of women who cannot take the pill due to various health reasons. However, will women trust men, and give up the pill all together? That question remains to be answered.