Male birth control pill without side-effects created in genetic breakthrough

LA JOLLA, Calif. — Picture this: a contraceptive pill for men that doesn’t impact their libido. Sound interesting? Men in the United States have long been limited to unreliable condoms or invasive vasectomies when it comes to birth control. Now, however, new research may change the game entirely.

Scientists at the Salk Institute tackled the issue of limited male contraceptive choices head-on.

“Most experimental male birth control drugs use a hammer approach to blocking sperm production, but ours is much more subtle,” says senior author Ronald Evans in a media release.

Evans’ team has been on a quest to find a safe, effective, and reversible method of male contraception, and it seems they may have developed a feasible method. Scientists targeted a specific protein complex involved in sperm production. In tests, the non-hormonal and reversible method shows great promise. In simple terms, the team has found a way to temporarily put a stop to a man’s ability to produce sperm without affecting other aspects of reproductive health.

Men in the United States have long been limited to unreliable condoms or invasive vasectomies when it comes to birth control. (Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition)

How does it work?

After identifying the protein in the genetic program responsible for sperm production, the team used existing drugs called HDAC inhibitors to disrupt this complex. They were able to stop sperm production in male mice without any apparent side-effects.

Moreover, once the treatment stopped, fertility returned to normal, with all of the mice’s offspring being healthy.

“It’s all about timing,” says co-author Michael Downes, a senior staff scientist in Evans’ lab. “When we add the drug, the stem cells fall out of sync with the pulses of retinoic acid, and sperm production is halted, but as soon as we take the drug away, the stem cells can reestablish their coordination with retinoic acid and sperm production will start up again.”

The findings present promising implications for male contraceptives, offering a novel strategy that is both effective and reversible. Unlike existing methods, this approach targets a specific molecular pathway involved in making sperm, potentially minimizing systemic side-effects tied to preventing pregnancy. Study authors note that further research and clinical trials are still necessary before this product reaches the market.

What does a pharmacist think?

It’s important, of course, to note that this research is still in its early stages, and there’s much more work to be done before it’s ready for prime time. Further studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness and safety in humans, and researchers are already gearing up for the next phase of clinical trials.

For now, let’s celebrate this milestone in male contraception research. The future looks brighter than ever, with the promise of a new option for preventing unwanted pregnancies on the horizon. Who knows? In the not-too-distant future, men everywhere could have access to a safe, effective, and reversible form of birth control. That’s something worth getting excited about.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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About the Author

Alexander Olumese, PharmD

Alexander Olumese is a DMV-based registered pharmacist and medical writer. He has over 10 years of experience with community and hospital pharmacies, as well as over 3 years within the pharmaceutical industry as a medical writer within medical affairs. He has a background in a variety of therapeutic areas. However, he specializes in cardiovascular disease, oncology, pain medicine, and infectious disease.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


    1. It’s been a long time since women guarded their virginity against men. They were always in charge before the pill, but when they found sex was safe, the whole game changed. It was a powerful tool to manipulate men.The men didn’t complain, but the social relationship was irreparably changed. Why women ever wanted “equal rights” is a mystery.

  1. Problem is, as a woman, I doubt I could trust a man to correctly take it, after all, he’s not the one who would get pregnant if he “forgot”.

  2. Male birth control pills will never take on unless they do something to the male’s appearance so women know the male isn’t lying about using the pill. What woman with even half a brain would take a male’s word for it that “yea baby, we can have unprotected sex as I’m on the pill”? Any woman with any sense would want control of her own reproduction safety. Such a pill would be a filter to increase the percentage of stupid babies born.

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