Most contraception forms, except for male condoms, are aimed at women. In fact, apart from condoms, the only alternative for male contraception is a vasectomy, which is a more permanent solution.
However, this may change in the future, as researchers at the University of Minnesota are starting human trials on a new non-hormonal method of birth control designed for males.
“Scientists have been trying for decades to develop an effective male oral contraceptive, but there are still no approved pills on the market,” says Md Abdullah Al Noman, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, in a press release.
“We wanted to develop a non-hormonal male contraceptive to avoid these side effects.”
According to the release, the researchers will start human clinical trials of this pill by the end of 2022.
The hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both are present in conventional hormonal birth control pills. They work by stopping ovulation, altering cervical mucus to make it less hospitable to sperm, and thinning the uterine lining to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.
The new non-hormonal birth control pill for men, however, works very differently. Instead of impacting testosterone levels, it stops proteins from binding to vitamin A, which is essential for mammalian reproduction.
So far, the research has only been done on mice, but the findings have been astoundingly favorable. After four weeks of oral dosage, mice had dramatically lower sperm counts. The pill, in particular, was 99 percent efficient in preventing pregnancy in mice. The mice also returned to normal virility levels four to six weeks after quitting the medicine, and no evident adverse effects were observed.
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that many experts remain hesitant.
According to The New York Times, this is because humans and mice have different gene relationships and reproductive systems, and the results of the mice study will not necessarily apply to humans.
There have been reports about a male contraceptive pill for years, but none have ever reached the market.
However, this brand-new non-hormonal contraception is unique and meets all standards. If it becomes available in the future, it will allow males to control their reproduction decisions.