Male Contraceptive Pill is a Possibility in the Future
A group of scientists from Australia has reported that a two-pill contraceptive option for men could be a possibility within the next few years. The research team from Monash University studied the sperm in animal models. They found that when they manipulated the rats' DNA, their sperm cells did not exit through the usual route, and thus the animals could not inseminate others.
For this study, the researchers headed by Dr. Sabatino Ventura focused on the vas deferens, which is the sperms' storage area located in the testes. During ejaculation, the sperm cells move out of the vas deferens. The team wanted to find a way in which the sperm cells would be forced to stay in the vas deferens. The team manipulated the rats' DNA and prevented two proteins from being produced. The proteins were in charge of moving sperm cells.
Without the proteins, the researchers noticed that the rats could not squeeze sperm out of their vas deferens, which meant that they could not inseminate other rats. The researchers believe that creating a two-pill option would rely heavily on studying these two proteins. The team stated that one of the two pills might have actually been created and used for years. The pill is currently used for benign prostate enlargement. The second pill, however, could take years to perfect.
"The sperm stay in the storage site so when the mice ejaculate there's no sperm and they are infertile. It is readily reversible and the sperm are unaffected, but we need to show we can do this pharmacologically, probably with two drugs," Ventura said according to BBC News.
The researchers noted that there could be side effects. Since the proteins they are targeting are responsible for controlling blood vessels, there could be some side effects related to blood pressure and heart rate. The team found that the mice had a very small dip in their blood pressure. The researchers added that the volume of ejaculate could also be affected.
Dr. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield, commented, "It's a very good study, almost like a biological vasectomy in [that] it stops the sperm coming out. It's a good idea; they need to get on with it and see what it does in people."
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.