Male Birth Control Pill Is Coming

( – The birth control pill for men may be just around the corner, according to researchers after a recent breakthrough signaled a potential step forward toward its development.

On Thursday, May 23, the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, published a study focusing on a specific compound that inhibits a protein in males necessary for fertility. When the particular protein is inhibited, sperm mobility becomes impeded and chances of pregnancy are severely reduced, according to researchers. The compound’s effects are only temporary and sperm should return to normal functioning after it has left the man’s system.

The director of the Center for Discovery, Dr. Martin Matzuk, said that although various strategies have been tried to create male contraceptives, the “birth control pill for men” doesn’t exist just yet. He said the recent study “focused on a novel approach” by studying a small molecule that inhibits a protein called “serine/threonine kinase 33” (or STK33). That protein is crucial for fertility in men as well as mice and is “considered a viable target with minimal safety concerns” for male contraception.

So far, tests of the compound have only been conducted on mice and further tests must be carried out before researchers may begin human trials. Postdoctoral associate at the university’s Center for Drug Discovery, Courtney Sutton, said that testing the compound “on non-human primates” would be the next step, to observe whether or not the same effects occur.

Sutton noted that research into contraceptives for men “has been going on for years and will continue” into the future, but that “challenges” exist toward developing something for men with high sperm production rates and that researchers “need to ensure” the effects of a method could be “easily reversible” with “minimal side effects.”

Over recent years, research into male contraceptives has continued to advance, changing a trend that generally tilts in the direction of females when it comes to regulating pregnancy risk. The women’s contraceptive pill is so prevalent in modern culture that it’s been dubbed simply as “the pill,” which was first approved in 1960 by the US Food and Drug Administration.

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