Is the world ready for male birth control pills?
You may have heard rumors of male birth control in the past, but there’s really only one option on store shelves. That’s the way it’s been for your entire life. And while we don’t have an oral contraceptive pill for men ready to hit the market just yet, researchers have revealed that we might be getting closer to a male alternative to “the pill”.
Led by co-senior investigator Dr. Christina Wang, researchers have created an experimental male birth control pill. The group officially presented their findings at the annual Endocrine Society meeting held this year in New Orleans.
“Our results suggest that this pill, which combines two hormonal activities in one, will decrease sperm production while preserving libido,” reports Wang.
If the thought of taking a hormone-altering pill with unknown side effects that would render you effectively sterile, even if temporarily, then welcome to the reality millions of women already face.
The most recent trial run of this male birth control pill — dubbed 11-beta-MNTDC — has successfully prevented sperm production without considerably lowering libido, one of the primary concerns regarding the development of this oral contraceptive. It does so by delivering a dose of testosterone and progesterone which limit the production of sperm in the body.
Tampering with these hormones could also potentially affect other illnesses experienced by men. For example, almost all men will eventually experience benign prostatic hyperplasia, a condition which already affects an estimated 37 million men worldwide. While there’s no known cause for this prostate enlargement, this condition is not seen in men who have had their testes removed at a young age, suggesting this could be a result of hormonal imbalances.
While the participants didn’t experience any considerable side effects, it’s worth mentioning that five of them experienced slightly lower libidos while another two participants experienced mild erectile dysfunction. Regardless, these men did not report any decline in their sexual activity throughout the duration of the 28-day experiment.
Other mild side effects include fatigue, headaches, and acne, conditions akin to those already experienced by women taking oral forms of contraception.
Male Birth Control Pills: not coming to a store near you
But don’t get too excited — doctors claim that an oral contraceptive for men won’t be available for another 10 years at least. On top of that, there’s no guarantee this product will be easily accessible to a wide range of people. While 85% of a business’s customers live within five miles of their brick and mortar location, hospitals aren’t as accessible as your local corner store.
Right now, there are only two primary forms of male contraception available: condoms or the vasectomy procedure. As a result, many women do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to birth control.
Should a heterosexual couple both take birth controls, the chance of pregnancy could be limited even more. And even though 90% of couples get married by the age of 50, more and more young people are waiting to have children or forgoing the decision altogether. A temporary birth control, like an oral pill, could take the pressure off of the woman to control her risk for pregnancy. This would further enable men to take control of their sexual health in safe ways, without opting for expensive surgeries like the vasectomy.
According to the researchers, it could take up to 90 days for 11-beta-MNTDC to affect sperm production, making the 28-day experiment far too short to achieve a reduction in sperm. It is apparent that longer trials with experimental male birth control are necessary.
While we might be one step closer to achieving male birth control pills, it does always seems like we’re just on the verge of a breakthrough. The average human walks 10,000 steps in one day — we will have plenty of waiting to do before we take sexual health to the next level.