In news that’s been a looooong time coming, scientists have developed a male birth control pill that has successfully passed testing on mice and is now ready for human trials.
And all the women said, “Hallelujah!” and also, “It’s about freaking time.”
The non-hormonal male oral contraceptive is 99% effective in mice and has no obvious side effects.
It is expected to enter human trials by the end of the year.
This is welcome news for women who have largely been responsible for birth control up until now thanks to the lack of male alternatives.
Some men would also like to add the good ol’ pull-out method to the list but let’s face it, we all know how that one turns out. Surprise!
The idea of a male contraceptive isn’t new, but attempts at them in the past have largely failed.
Mostly because they have targeted the sex hormone testosterone and are associated with nasty side effects such as weight gain and depression. Huh. Imagine that.
This one, however, is different.
The “male pill”, created by Gunda Georg and a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, targets a protein called retinoic acid receptor (RAR) alpha. Retinoic acid, which is created from Vitamin A, is a vital component of fertility.
Retinoic acid needs to interact with RAR-alpha in order to create sperm. Blocking the RAR-alpha gene causes sterility.
The researchers formulated a chemical blocker, YCT529, and tested it on male mice. The result? After 4 weeks of orally administering it, there was a significant decrease in sperm count.
The best part, however, was that it prevented pregnancy by 99%.
And bonus, there were no observable side effects. Which, according to the study’s researchers, has been the biggest stumbling block with other pills in the past.
The researchers presented their findings this week at the American Chemical Society’s Spring 2022 conference in San Diego, CA.
One researcher on the study, Abdullah al Noman, explained why there are still no approved pills on the market, saying:
“Most female birth control pills work on the female sex hormones. [But] targeting the male sex hormone leads to a lot of side effects such as weight gain, depression, and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Men are less willing to take a birth control pill that has significant side effects. That’s why we are targeting a non-hormonal pathway to developing a male birth control pill.”
Never mind that female hormonal contraceptives can cause a number of side effects including; nausea, headaches, weight gain, mood changes, decreased libido, and depression.
But I digress.
Additionally, the researchers reported that after 4-6 weeks of being taken off the treatment, the mice were back to shooting live rounds and making babies.
Research lead Gunda Georg said:
“That’s very important — that you knock out the target, that you’ve achieved the desired effect but the mice are also viable and healthy.
Of course, you have to be careful with this analysis because they are mice and not humans, but nevertheless, the effect was very, very promising.”
In a NUT shell, the male pill is nearly 100% effective, has ZERO side effects, AND doesn’t pose any threat to fathering future children.
As someone who spent YEARS AND YEARS on the pill, this is, to put it mildly, welcome news. And, quite frankly, it’s long overdue.
The birth control pill was approved by the FDA on June 23, 1960. It’s taken 62 YEARS to come up with a potentially viable alternative for men.
And sure, there are other alternatives. IUDs, progestin injections, patches, vaginal rings, diaphragms, and cervical caps, just to name a few. But these options all put the responsibility solely on women.
And let’s face it, it takes two.
So this shouldn’t just be welcome news for women. It should be for men too.
The male pill expands their options for birth control and allows them to share the responsibility of birth control with their partners. Which they should be doing.
It also puts the control of whether or not they have children in their own hands, without fear of failure (as in the case with condoms.)
Sounds like a win-win to me.
The male pill is slated to start human trials by the third or fourth quarter of 2022. The company YourChoice Therapeutics, which is behind it, is working on getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If it is successful, Gunda Georg anticipates it will be on the market in 5 years or less. Fingers crossed.