Male contraceptive pill could be on the horizon with latest breakthrough
11th October 2012
A major discovery by Australian researchers could finally bring a male contraceptive pill to fruition and give men more options to equip them and their partners against unwanted pregnancies. Currently condoms such as Durex and Skins for men or the oral contraceptive pill for women, Dianette, are just a few of the choices that are already presently available. The latest developments follow other research conducted earlier this year by American experts who wanted to push through a male contraceptive pill as they said: “The lack of contraceptive alternatives for men is partially responsible for the high rate of unplanned pregnancies and contributes to the ethical, social and financial costs associated with abortions and deliveries to single mothers.” Scientists at Monash University in Melbourne say that their findings mean that a pill could be produced that actually kills off the ability of sperm to swim efficiently, living them twiddling their thumbs instead of arriving at their unwanted destination! Furthermore, their findings could also shed some more light on potential factors behind male infertility. In what seems to be common practice for laboratory tests these days, Lead researcher Professor Moira O'Bryan and her team chose mice to be their subjects for analysis. The team devised a mutation in a gene that is named ‘RABL2’. This gene works at transmitting protein fuel to the engine (known as the axoneme) in a sperm's tail in mice. This engineered mutation then led to a reduction in the size of sperm tails by 17% of their ‘normal’ size, and a 50% decrease in the production of sperm. Most interestingly perhaps was that it was found these particular mice with the mutated gene were left infertile and their sperm were prevented from swimming or moving about anywhere. Professor O'Bryan says, “They weren't wriggling or going anywhere, they were just twitching. With this mutation, we get motors that don't work properly. To be fertile, sperm need motility or swimming ability.” O'Bryan worked together with fellow scientists from the University of Newcastle, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Cambridge for the research. The next step now will be crafting a male contraceptive pill that will work to restrict the RABL2 gene instead of changing or damaging it forever. Professor O’Bryan continued, “The challenge with developing the male pill isn't rendering the sperm infertile but turning them back on again.” The biggest hurdle it seems now for the scientists to overcome is the fact RABL2 is also located in other tissues such as those in the brain, kidneys and liver in lower concentrations. Therefore a male contraceptive pill would have to be constructed in a complex way that has an inhibitor specialised for the testes and will not affect other areas of the body. Perhaps another hurdle to whether or not male contraceptive pills fully take-off, is if women actually trust the man to take it! This is a subject Medical Specialists Pharmacy looked at briefly in our story mentioned earlier. In addition, it is unknown just when a male pill will even be available. Various studies have been conducted in the last few years but it seems nobody has come forth with a definitive date of release. In the meantime, men could simply opt for the tried and test contraceptive method of condoms, which boast a 98% effectiveness rate. For women, the female birth control pill Dianette has an incredible 99% effective at fulfilling its purpose. At Medical Specialists Pharmacy, men are already spoilt for choice when it comes to their contraceptive needs. In regards to condoms, Durex and Skins in particularly have an impressive range of weird and wonderful condoms to suit his and her preferences. Some condoms are ultra-thin to the extent you can barely feel it, others are designed to have a ‘tingling’ effect for maximum pleasure, whereas there are also even condoms that come in luscious flavours such as chocolate. If all this isn’t enough, a Durex play vibration ring can be used in conjunction with a condom to add to the pleasure! Make sure to keep checking the Medical Specialists website for further news, developments and the latest products. We are constantly updating our huge product base and in the next few weeks we will also hope to add Marvelon and Yasmin; two additional female oral contraceptive pills that can also help to fight acne.