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What You Need to Know About the Future of Male Birth Control

by Kate Ferguson on October 7, 2015
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Male birth control is absolutely going to be a thing, and recent headway on the matter is making the outcome sound even better than before. For quite some time researchers were approaching male birth control from a hormonal level, similar in concept to how much of female birth control works. But now some researchers at Osaka University in Japan have started on a new idea…that they can stop sperm in its tracks by targeting a protein it contains.

The study was done on mice and proved that when the researchers genetically altered the mice so that they would not produce this certain protein called calcineurin, the mice were basically rendered infertile. They still released sperm, but it was inefficient at getting all the way to the egg so no fertilization could take place.

To follow up on this study, the researchers gave otherwise fertile mice some doses of cyclosporine A and FK506 which should affect the key protein. They found that within a weeks time the mice became infertile just like in the previous study. And the great news was that it was temporary. After the mice were taken off the drugs they returned to their normal levels of sperm mobility and fertility.

Humans also have the protein calcineurin in their sperm, so the researchers feel like they might be on to something. This has the potential to be a huge breakthrough in the market if it comes to light, because hormonal birth control has a ton of side effects, including the potential of lowering sex drive.

One reason why this might happen fairly quickly as far as these things go, is because there are already approved drugs on the market that affect this protein. (It’s not like the researchers are having to develop an entirely new drug.) Men who have taken cyclosporine have shown to have no troubles returning to their normal levels of fertility after going off of the drug.

Currently the strongest form of male birth control is a vasectomy, but of course that requires surgery and generally isn’t reversible. Condoms of course have their challenges as well. And while the current female versions of birth control are pretty effective, they’re not 100 percent effective, and it would nice to give the ladies a break as there are high risks involved with most of them.

Women who use implants have the risks of perforations, pain, and changes to the flow of their menstrual cycle. (Sometimes for the worse.) Hormonal birth control pills can cause depression, weight gain, severe mood swings, changes in sexual desire, and strangely even their taste in men. Some studies have found that women on hormonal birth control are drawn to different types of men than women who are not, due to some of the hormones being repressed in the body. When women decide that they do want children, sometimes coming off the pill can make the process more challenging or complicated. No birth control method besides abstinence is completely perfect, but at least we’re getting closer.

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