Birth Control Pills for Men: Coming Soon?
After more than 40 years of research, scientists at the University of Kansas Medical Center may have devised a new form of birth control: a non-hormonal pill for men. Joseph Tash, a reproductive biologist, has been studying the problem since the 1960s. As he told the Kansas State Collegian, “I felt it was one-sided, and if I could do something to develop a male pill that would help the situation I would. I’ve been working on it since.”
In the last decade, Tash has made some exciting breakthroughs. He’s tried a variety of approaches, from preventing sperm from being able to reach the egg, to completely halting the production of sperm. And thanks to H2-gamendazole, a substance derived from an anti-cancer drug, they may have finally found something that works safely and reversibly.
There have been plenty of false starts with hormonal medications for men, which for some reason simply aren’t as effective as they are in women. They were effective for some men, but not others, and researchers still haven’t quite figured out why. There’s also the issue of unintended side effects, since hormones affect multiple systems throughout the body.
Gamendazole, on the other hand, targets only the late stages of sperm production. It’s safer and has fewer side effects than hormonal contraception – potentially making it a better option for couples if the woman experiences side effects from birth control pills, or is unable to take them for medical reasons.
The drug isn’t ready to go on the market yet. It still needs to get FDA approval for human trials. Tash is continuing his research to see if there are any potential side effects, and is getting together the data necessary to demonstrate to the FDA that it doesn’t pose a safety risk. He’s hoping to be able to test the drug in humans within the next few years.
Of course, this raises the question: how will the anti-contraception crowd react when male contraceptive pills hit the shelves? Satirist Stephen Colbert is already prepared for that possibility. Taking a dig at some of the recent anti-abortion legislation being proposed by conservatives across the US, he proposes “transurethral ultrasounds” for all men considering taking the pill. He describes his idea in the video below:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Tip/Wag – Kansas’ Male Birth Control Pill & New York’s Babyccino|
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