A male contraceptive pill that has been talked about for decades may soon become a reality!
Contraception is a domain that has been primarily left to women. A male contraception pill would be ideal for couples who want to share the responsibilities for birth control, for cases where female methods are not feasible and where parties want to avoid a permanent procedure like a vasectomy.
Efforts to create a male birth control pill to date have focused on hormones or temporarily shutting down sperm production at the source. In the new study experts have attempted to block the transport of sperm which would thereby eliminate all chances of conception.
Experiment on animals
Working on genetically modified mice, scientists from Monash University in Melbourne, the University of Melbourne and the University of Leicester in England discovered a process that stopped the unleashing of sperm through their sex organs during ejaculation by blocking two proteins.
They disrupted two key proteins in mice – alpha-1A adrenoceptor and P2X1-purinoceptor that transport sperm through the urethra when a man releases semen. The result caused temporary, reversible infertility in the “double knockout” male mice. The rodents were able to have sex normally, were healthy but it led to no pregnancies despite ejaculation.
Researcher Sabatino Ventura from Melbourne”s Monash University said, “We”ve shown that simultaneously disrupting the two proteins that control the transport of sperm during ejaculation causes complete male infertility.
“But without affecting the long-term viability of sperm or the sexual or general health of males. The sperm is effectively there, but the muscle is just not receiving the chemical message to move it.”
Given the promise exhibited in the animal studies, the scientists now want to apply the genetic principles that induced mice infertility to create a chemical equivalent. They are optimistic that it could lead to an effective male contraceptive pill in the next 10 years.
The authors of the study stated, “This approach is unique because it is nonhormonal and does not affect the development of sperm. The sperm are fine, but they are just not transported at the appropriate time to be ejaculated. We just need a medicine to be developed for the second protein] before a drug can be trialed.”
The findings are published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.