A new scientific study published by the journal Nature Communications has shown advances in the development of a male contraceptive pill. This is a non-hormonal drug that is different from the one used by women occasionally, it will prevent sperm from swimming to the egg.
This male contraceptive will be transformative for everyone. Not everyone wants to have children, and for a long time the options for preventing unwanted pregnancies were extremely limited.
Medical advances led to the creation of hormonal pills, as well as other methods such as IUDs, implants, vaginal rings, diaphragms and injectables. Despite the evolution, no contraceptive method guarantees 100% protection against pregnancy, and to date, all the medicines developed are geared toward women.
The contraceptives that can be chosen by men are condoms and vasectomy. For those couples who choose not to use the condom, but also do not want a child, the woman is "responsible" for the decision to opt for extra care. But what if this care could also come from men?
The new study is still in the evaluation phase and needs many more tests to ensure its effectiveness in humans, for example, the drug's next step is to be tested on rabbits.
According to the scientists responsible for the project, the impediment to sperm movement happens by means of a cell signaling protein called soluble adenylyl cyclase, and the experimental pill acts by blocking the action of this enzyme.
The first tests were conducted on mice using a dose of the medication, initially named TDI-11861, which immobilized spermatozoa before, during and after sex. The effect lasted for three hours, and after a day it had disappeared from the animals' bodies. The advantage of not being composed of hormones is that the pill, if approved, would not cause hormonal changes or affect testosterone.
According to the article, the difficulty in developing a male contraceptive option is due to the fact that after puberty, a man can produce about 1,000 sperm per second. In other words, the drug must be able to block the action of thousands and thousands of sperm in an attempt to fertilize the oocyte. The senior authors of the study are Jochen Buck and Lonny Levin, professors of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Should the drug move on to the next stages and be mass-produced on the market, it will be a major step forward for science and, moreover, it will be important for the responsibility of preventing unwanted pregnancy to also be thought about and practiced by men more generally.
According to an article published by The Lancet Global Health, the global unintended pregnancy rate is ~50% and it is even higher among adolescents in the United States. In 2015-19, there were 121-0 million unintended pregnanciesannually. As previously mentioned, no method currently available on the market can guarantee 100% effectiveness and the responsibility and decision to use a contraceptive method (other than the condom) should come from the couple. However, the scarcity of options on the market for male contraception means that it is often the woman who has to resort to medication.
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