Male Contraceptives Interrupting Sperm Count, Maturation, Mobility

Birth control may no longer be limited to females soon, new research suggests.

Scientists have been testing new methods of pregnancy prevention, finding ways to incorporate the male into the equation.

Men, who are increasingly open to use of contraceptives, especially with the unreliability of condoms, want to share responsibility with their partners.

Analyzing ways to make the sperm ineffective for fertilization, researchers are testing a number of studies specifically designed to interrupt sperm production, maturation or mobility, The New York Times reported.

In the United States, studies have found that the use of the testosterone and progestin hormones stops the body from producing sperm. Though the side effects are yet to be known, it has been reported to be safe and effective for most men.

Steve Owens, a 39-year-old from Seattle, volunteered to take such tests, which worked to lower his sperm count to levels where fertilization would not be possible.

He told the Times that though his sperm count was in fact lowered so that he could not “viably” produce a child, his sperm count returned to normal in the periods between each research study, thus resulting in a daughter.

Owens testified to experiencing moodiness at times from the testosterone gel, which was applied to his shoulders. But the progestin implant caused no side effects for him.

Another Seattle-based man by the name of Michal Lehmann, 39, also reported minimal side effects with the administered drugs, besides acne.

Gamendazole, developed by researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center, is another possible candidate for male contraceptives. It is derived from an anticancer drug and creates nonfunctional sperm by interrupting sperm maturation.

The drug, which has already been tested in rats and monkeys, is up for discussion with the Food and Drug Administration currently, according to the Times.

Other potential studies are making headway in the field, including antipsychotic and antihypertensive drugs that keep men from ejaculating during orgasm, and drugs that block production of retinoic acid, an element essential to sperm production.

Scientists are hoping that whatever pill they do adopt, it will be safe, effective, and reversible.

Diana L. Blithe, program director for contraceptive development for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development recently spoke to the Times commenting that they had a number of “irons in the fire.”

“I think men actually do want to do this,” Blithe added.

Some of the proposed studies on male contraception will be presented in October at a conference sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Male contraception is a critical area,” Jenny Sorensen, a spokeswoman from the foundation stated, according to the Times. “It doesn’t make sense to not include everyone in the discussion.”

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