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New hope for a male birth control pill

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research into male contracetive pill progressingScientists discover way to prevent ejaculation of sperm.

If further work on this discovery is successful, scientists hope that an oral male contraceptive pill could be available within 10 years.

Widespread availability of such a pill would have the potential to drastically alter the pressure on women to be responsible for contraception.

The willingness of men to take on some of that responsibility is often part of the discussions about male birth control, and this report alludes to that, saying ‘A lack of ejaculate has the potential to be disconcerting.’

Writing in the Guardian, Daisy Buchanan said, ‘It’s exciting that science could be about to give men the opportunity to be more involved than ever in family planning [since] contraception should be a shared responsibility.’

Male birth control has been a medical challenge for many years, due in large part to the constant vast numbers of sperm men produce as opposed to the single egg that women produce once a month.

Previous problems with finding a male birth control option included too many side effects from hormonal methods, high probabilities of birth defects once treatment ended and the physical barriers in a man’s body that prevent drugs easy access to the process of sperm production.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reported success in blocking the transport of sperm, rather than its production.

The pill blocks two proteins and thus prevents the necessary muscles from ejaculating sperm during intercourse, exactly what is needed to make male birth control a reality.

Blocking the transport of sperm is non-hormonal, there were no apparent side effects and the effect is easily reversible.

So, although women cannot yet set aside their responsibility and still need to choose – or find out – which of the many available female contraceptives they can use effectively, there is more than a little hope that in the relatively near future, men will be able to take up their part in managing contraception.

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