The idea of birth control can be scary, but it’s the most effective option to protect oneself from unwanted pregnancy. The side effects do little to deter the 98% of women who’ve tried them at some point in their lives. The majority of these women smply want to predict their fertility futures with a pill. However, what if men had this option to stop their little swimmers from conceiving “Little Sam or Samantha” too? Research is in the works to do just that.
It has been 50+ years since oral contraceptives have been made available. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, 17.5% of women aged 15-44 using birth control are taking oral contraceptives. Currently, the only options for men are vasectomies or condoms. The latter of which isn’t a sure way to prevent pregnancy. So, from a guy’s perspective, this may seem unfair. Why isn’t the option available for men to act sexually responsibly as well? The answer comes in a few different points:
Point 1: Stop the Sperm Directly
In order to do this, researchers must target any one of the hundreds of genes and proteins involved in their development. In previous testing, the hormone testosterone was targeted because increased levels of it caused the pituitary gland to release less of the hormones needed to produce sperm. However, side effects included weight gain and depression. While this may sound like nothing in comparison to the effects of female contraceptives, it simply doesn’t match up to the effectiveness. This particular method only has a 60 to 90% reduction in fertility. The chance of pregnancy is obviously too great in this kind of variability.
Point 2: Stop Sperm from Swimming
Men produce a thousand sperm every heartbeat. Scientist discovered that a protein, called Calcineuron, was found to be crucial in helping sperm swim and break through the membrane of a female egg in order to fertilize it. They tested the premise on mice by blocking the genes that produce the protein, causing the mice to become infertile. However, they learned there are still many challenges when it comes to controlling immense quantities of sperm.
Researchers and scientists are working diligently to find an answer to “Men-Power” when it comes to fertility. The only hope so far is an injection called Vaselgel. It is gel that is injected in a location similar to that cut during a vasectomy and allows fluids to get through whilst blocking sperm. The backed-up sperm are then reabsorbed by the body. The problem with this method is like a vasectomy, it has been found by researchers to sometimes not reverse leaving men infertile. With more research and working out of the impediments, this method may be available within three to five years. Listen to this podcast on the 40 Minute mark to learn more.
The million dollar question surrounding birth control for men is: Will men actually take it? With 80.6% of single parents being mothers, perhaps giving men the option is a very necessary thing to do. Anything to cut this number down may be a plausible solution.
Tell us your thoughts!
Written by Jasmine Katrina Hockett
Disclaimer: The EGL Wellness blog does not create a doctor/patient relationship. The information provided is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All text on this site is informational and for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified mental health provider with any questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. Any advice or information provided on the site is provided on an “as-is” basis. No warranties either expressed or implied, are made on the information provided.