Researchers closer to birth control pill for men

Researchers in Australia have discovered a reversible way of stopping sperm from being released through the ejaculate without impacting sexual functioning. In animal tests, the researchers found that the sperm could be “kept in storage” during sex, thereby preventing pregnancy.

The study was conducted at Monash University and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Previous research into a male birth control pill have focused on getting men to produce non-functional sperm. Given that these drugs had significant side effects including reduced sexual appetite and possible infertility, the team at Monash University tried a different tactic. Normally before ejaculation, sperm is moved out of the vas deferens storage area into the testes before being released during orgasm. The researchers were able to change the DNA of a group of male mice to stop them from producing two proteins that are needed to move the sperm into the testes. The sperm of these genetically modified mice stayed in the storage area, keeping them from moving into the ejaculate and preventing the possibility of a pregnancy. They found that this effect was reversible, and the sperm were unaffected.

The researchers’ next step is to find drugs that can impact human sperm in the same way. They think one has already been developed that they could use, but they need to start from scratch to find the other drug. This could take up to a decade. With these recent findings, researchers are optimistic that they are one step closer to developing a male birth control pill.

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