‘On-demand’ male birth control: Contraceptive pill taken just before intercourse prevents pregnancy

BETHESDA, Md. — A male contraceptive pill could create an “on-demand” way for men to prevent pregnancy. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health say the compounds in this drug block a fertility protein for 24 hours. Moreover, men could take the contraceptive right before sex and still get full protection.

Scientists say that, in some ways, it is more effective than women’s oral birth control medications, which users have to take daily. In experiments, the non-hormonal compound stopped mouse sperm cells in their tracks, preventing them from maturing. The animals’ sexual functioning was normal. Male lab rodents mated with females, but there were no pregnancies.

“Our inhibitor works within 30 minutes to an hour,” says lead author Dr. Melanie Balbach, in a statement. “Every other experimental hormonal or non-hormonal male contraceptive takes weeks to bring sperm count down or render them unable to fertilize eggs.”

How does the male birth control pill work?

The drug temporarily disables an enzyme called sAC (soluble adenylyl cyclase), which triggers the sperm cells to swim. Researchers note that sperm recovered from female mice remained incapacitated and there were no side-effects in males taking the drug. The compound wore off three hours later, with male mice recovering their fertility right after.

A single dose rendered sperm immobile for up to two-and-a-half hours, with the effects persisting in the female reproductive tract after sex. There were 52 attempts at impregnation and all failed. In contrast, one in three mice treated with a placebo that acted as a control group got their partners pregnant.

After three hours, some sperm began regaining motility, with virtually all recovering a day later. The team at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York is hailing the breakthrough as a potential “gamechanger” for preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Scientists have been trying to develop an effective male oral contraceptive for decades. Targeting testosterone has previously led to obesity, depression, and high cholesterol. Women’s choices range from pills to patches to intrauterine devices. As a result, they bear most of the burden of preventing pregnancy.

Men have just two options, condoms or a vasectomy. The former is a single-use option and prone to failure. The latter is surgical sterilization which is expensive to reverse and not always successful. It takes weeks to reverse the effects of other hormonal and non-hormonal male contraceptives in development, according to Dr. Balbach.

The new treatment wears off within hours. Men would take it only when, and as often, as needed. It could allow men to make day-to-day decisions about their fertility, the researchers explain.

“The team is already working on making sAC inhibitors better suited for use in humans,” notes co-author Professor Lonny Levin.

Creating a pill for men has been a difficult process

The team has already launched Sacyl Pharmaceuticals. The next step is repeating the study in a different pre-clinical model to lay the groundwork for human clinical trials. They would test the effect on sperm motility in healthy human males. If successful, Prof. Levin adds that he hopes to walk into a pharmacy one day and hear a man request “the male pill.”

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, are among the most promising to date — offering real hope of bringing this goal to fruition. It would help reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions, as well as improving maternal health and decreasing infant mortality.

The female pill has enabled millions of women take control of their fertility and reproductive health since it became available in 1961. Its convenience and non-invasiveness has provided little incentive for pharmaceutical giants to develop a male equivalent.

A recent study that injected men with testosterone and progestogen – similar to hormones found in the female pill – had to be stopped early. Pregnancy rates for female partners of men receiving the injections fell below that typically seen for women on the pill. Adverse side-effects included acne, mood disorders, and raised libido. The side-effects proved to be too severe, despite the desired drop in sperm production.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

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  1. “Gee, Wally, I hope this male birth control is safer than the Covid vax.”
    “Don’t worry Beav, Dad already checked it out on the CNN web site. CNN says it is 95% effective, with no side effects.””
    “I dunno Wally. Maybe Eddy Haskel and Lumpy should try it first. You know, just be sure.”

    1. Golly, Wally! I get a rash when I think about taking stuff like that…
      There HAS to be a better way!

  2. Lol. As if men will take it. The entire point of their existence is to spread their seed. They have no other meaningful reason for being here and in a few years that seed won’t even be needed. I’m for this because many have an inability to wear a condom so the least they could do is this but like I said, they won’t. They have this subconscious need to breed. Human males are nothing more than baby factories. Vasectomies are really the answer, why not? I mean so many men think they own a woman’s body and her decisions I really wish they felt that just once.

    1. Youre insane . Every man in the country will take this. No man wants a baby at 20 i think youve had a tough go and dont know shit about men . Own a womens body what are you talking about ? What male from 16-35 wants a Vasectomy? Take your meds

      1. Fortunately she’s a militant lesbian with severe penis envy so she has no impact on society other than her hilarious pooposting.

    2. “I mean so many men think they own a woman’s body and her decisions I really wish they felt that just once.”

      Take a trip around Normandy and examine the tombstones there, then come talk to us about owning one’s body.

      You privileged harpy.

    3. Another psychotic female who rants against men for no other reason than needing someone to hate. ALL of my kids were PLANNED, with NO help from “Planned Abortionhood”, thank you very much!

    4. My Gosh, you are quite a writer. You wove a tapestry of words that helped me understand hopelessness, anger, delusion, anxiety, disability, disappointment, regret, deep sadness. I smelled the SSRI’s and cat urine! I hope you feel better. BPD is no joke.

    5. Bitter single cat lady, party of one, bitter hilarious cat lady, your neighbors are laughing at you, please report to the “bingo for societal outcasts” room.

  3. So this works for a few hours. What about sperm remaining in the woman? Do women have to go through some sort of cleansing process after sex so that the sperm cells do not recover?

  4. This is the HOLY GRAIL of rat control. Develop it into a long lasting, good tasting editable and plant around buildings to preverodents from reproducing.

  5. The result will be more stupid people born, since only stupid women will trust their birth control to their male partner claiming to take a birth control pill which she can’t verify.

    1. So are you saying women don’t do this and sometimes on a regular basis knowing that the law can compel a man to be a father even though the law does not compel the woman to be a mother? Disingenuious.

  6. Problem will manifest 3 years down the road when the first batch of children are born without eyes or arms or legs thanks to the unforeseen genetic side effects of taking this. Hello Thalidomide 2.0….

  7. Women will protest. The end of the trap. No more alimony and child support. And a husband having a say in when pregnancy happens. What happens to all the women that “Gotta have a baby”?

  8. This only works if you KNOW you’re going to have sex LATER. Once you know sex is on the way, who waits 30-60 minutes???????

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