According to a new study, an experimental contraceptive drug proved successful at briefly restraining sperm in male mice.
This advances the development of a short term, quick acting birth control pill meant for male use.
A single dose of soluble adenylyl cyclase (sAC), which is “the enzyme needed for activating a sperm cell’s capacity to swim and develop so that it may go through the female reproductive system and fertilize an egg,” was given to male mice in the study.
Male mice given the substance showed “typical mating behavior” but without pregnancies, according to the research, whereas mice that received a placebo impregnated their female partners 30 percent of the time.
The male mice were infertile for up to 2.5 hours until part of their sperm started to move again 3 hours later. The male mice recovered their full fertility within 24 hours, and neither the male nor the female mice had any negative side effects.
While talking to Yahoo News, co-authors Dr. Jochen Buck, Dr. Melanie Balbach and Dr. Lonny Levin stressed that there were a few significant takeaways from their study.
Levin mentioned that “The first is that male contraception is an achievable goal. Our study proves that a man will one day be able to take contraceptive drugs in order to provide reproductive equality for both partners.”
The United Nations’ sexual and reproductive health agency says that almost half of pregnancies are unintended, and women bear a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for avoiding them.
The novel technique of contraception “has the potential to promote equity between the sexes and, like the emergence of oral birth control for women, change family planning,” the report states.
For many years, men’s sole birth control possibilities have only been condoms and vasectomies.
The study’s nonhormonal methodology has one significant benefit, according to the authors: The medicine does not result in the undesirable side effects of customary hormonal birth control pills.
Levin observed that because men “don’t suffer the risks associated with carrying a pregnancy,” the area of male oral contraceptive development presupposes that the side effects of hormonal contraceptives may deter men from taking them.
Males are also apparently likely to have a poor tolerance for side effects.
According to the report, other hormonal drugs for men have a clinical trial success rate of roughly 94 percent for preventing pregnancy, but they have been discontinued due to adverse effects including mood swings and acne.
The authors told the platform that their approach goes to prove that “on demand contraception” is realistic as opposed to taking contraception regularly.
“We provide proof of concept that is possible for a person to take a contraceptive pill only when and as often as needed. In our approach, the man can take a pill before sexual activity, and they’ll be infertile for the subsequent 12 to 18 hours. By the next day, they will be completely fertile once again. This approach means that men will be taking a treatment only when needed.”
The sAC-inhibiting substance is currently being tested in rabbits, whose reproductive system is comparable to that of humans, according to the authors, who are also working to improve their preclinical medication candidates.
That being said, Balbach mentioned that “With one of these compounds, we will start clinical trials in humans in two to three years. Usually, the first phase of a clinical trial exclusively focuses on safety. We have the advantage that we can not only test for safety, but we can also test easily right away if the sAC inhibitor blocks sperm motility in humans, similarly as in mice. We hope we have a pill on the shelves in six to eight years.”