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Male Contraceptives: Birth Control May Become Equal Opportunity Responsibility

Discussion in 'Reproductive and Sexual Medicine' started by Egyptian Doctor, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor  Moderator Verified Doctor

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    Although science will likely never find a way to alter the male reproductive system that could provide men with the option of carrying and giving birth to their own child , at least men may soon be able to better share the responsibility of birth control. Up until now, men have only been able to provide protection with the use of condoms, which are known to have a 14-15 percent failure rate, or permanently give up their ability to father children via vasectomy. However, according to U.S. researchers,new developments are leading to safe, effective and reversible male contraceptives.

    In a report from The New York Times, Diana L. Blithe, program director for contraceptive development for the Washington-based National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, noted, “We have a number of irons in the fire.” She then added, “I think men actually do want to do this.”

    Among the ongoing research projects are various methods for lowering the male sperm count, as well as a male birth control pill that prevents sperm cell maturation, rendering them nonfunctional. The majority of American studies involve the use of testosterone and progestin hormones to stop sperm production.

    Although methods for male contraception have been studied previously, concerns regarding their safety, effectiveness, and reversibility have led to a lack of interest among men for their use. With the new approaches to the issue, the likelihood that men would adopt their use is far greater.

    According to Jenny Sorensen, a spokeswoman from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “Male contraception is a critical area.” She went on to say, “It doesn’t make sense to not include everyone in the discussion. ”The Foundation will sponsor a conference in October that will allow various researchers to present their findings.

    A male birth control pill known as gamendazole, is one such that prevents sperm from maturing to make them nonfunctional. The product was developed from an anti-cancer drug and has been tested in both rats and monkeys by researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center. According to Gregory S. Kopf, associate vice chancellor for the center’s research administration, discussions are now underway with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the drug.

    Another drug originally developed to treat worm infections was found to cause infertility, which ultimately led to testing on men. While testing with rabbits, Dr. John K.Amory, a reproductive scientist at the University of Washington, found that the drug blocks production of retinoic acid, which is necessary to the production of sperm. However, the research has reached a stumbling block because the drug behaves like those that curb alcoholism, and causes people who partake of alcohol to become sick.

    Dr. Amory is continuing his work and focusing his efforts on making the treatment compatible with imbibing alcoholic beverages. He noted, “The joke is, if it weren’t for alcohol, no one would need contraception.”

    Columbia University Medical Center geneticist Debra J. Wolgemuth is working to formulating a drug that can block sperm production without causing ill effects during alcohol consumption.

    Dr. David Clapham, a Harvard neurobiologist, discovered that the tails of sperm contain calcium ion channels having electrically charged atoms that turbo-charge sperm to reach eggs. He is working to develop a drug that will disable the channel.

    The director of the Male Contraception Information Project, Elaine Lissner, is focusing on the development of a reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (Risug) that involves making sperm inactive via an injection of a gel into the scrotum, as well as working on another method that uses ultrasound to briefly heat the testes resulting in a halt of sperm production that last for months.

    Two other drugs have been discovered to prevent male ejaculating during orgasm. One is an antihypertensive medication, while the other is an antipsychotic. Both drugs would require modifications that prevent effects on hypertension and mood.

    General side effects of the male birth control methods are similar to those women experience with female birth control methods such as mood swings, skin appearance, as well as cholesterol and heart health risks. Although surveys have indicated that men are receptive to male birth control, both long-term and short term side effects need to be studied further.

    To date, pharmaceutical companies have not endorsed any of these new male birth control methods due to the possibility of long-term side effects.

    Last, but not least, there is also the matter of the willingness of women to accept the shift in the responsibility of birth control. This is in addition to being able to trust their partners to use birth control methods correctly to insure their effectiveness, just as men must trust women to do now.

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  2. Rocket Queen

    Rocket Queen Super Moderator

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