There are countless contraceptive methods for women: oral hormones or patches, intrauterine devices (IUDs), vaginal condoms… On the other hand, men only have male condoms, which are much more widely used, and, at the most, vasectomy. is not male contraceptive hormonal or which can be entered for a while, for example, the IUD.

There is only the most radical version of a vasectomy, although although it is a safer procedure than tubal ligation, women end up doing the operation. Leaving all that aside and focusing on the first part, what happens? Why are there no male methods of contraception?

Before answering this question, a couple of things need to be clear. When we talk about male contraceptives, we basically mean cis men and if we talk about the female version, then cis women. Leaving this clear, we must also remember that the fact that it does not exist does not mean that it has not been looked for.

There are countless studies looking for a new male contraceptive. They can be divided into two large groups: hormonal contraceptives and those who really block the passage or movement of sperm without affecting hormones. However, to this day, despite the wide range of female contraceptives, there are no male ones. The reasons are complex, although these are some of them.

Barriers to male contraception

As explained by Adam Watkins in 2021 BBCprofessor of reproductive biology University of Nottingham, one of the main problems of male contraceptives is the number of gametes. That is, women every month ovulate and release an egg. Maybe two or three in exceptional cases. However, men can produce millions of sperm every day. This greatly complicates their containment. The reason is that even if you can make them lose 90% of their ability to produce that sperm, many men can still be fertile.

This may be a technical reason. But, in fact, not the only one. There is something far more unfair, and that is simply that so much effort has not been put into it. It is true that there is a lot of research on male contraceptives. However, because the female options work so well, it’s not profitable for most pharmacists to try to go any further. It’s worth it for what it is, even if it means taking on the brunt of responsibility, care, and the possible. side effects in women.

unwanted side effects

The hormonal-based male contraceptive is one of the most studied. In fact, some of them have reached the phase of clinical trials. However, they were all stopped due to “unacceptable side effects”. In some cases they consisted of pimples, libido changes, headache or mood swings. If they are only such, they have nothing to envy those of female contraceptives. However, it should be noted that there were also cases when there were even suicide attempts. In addition, unfortunately, no one tried.

What other options are there for birth control in men?

There are many non-hormonal male contraceptives. One of the most revolutionary of its time was vasalgel, a hydrogel that is injected into the vas deferens and temporarily blocks the passage of sperm. While this is one of the ones that has produced the best preclinical results, there are two factors to consider. On the one hand, it has only been successfully tested in rabbits and monkeys. Even in the latter, differences in the reproductive system may be enough to make the effectiveness incomparable. In addition, side effects can be very different. And, on the other hand, the fact that it is controlled through injectionwill cause strong rejection among potential users, so other options continue to be explored.

This has led to the testing of non-hormonal pharmacological options. For example, a substance that blocks receptors on cells that a drug is supposed to bind to. Retinoic acid. This substance is very important for the proper movement of spermatozoa. So if it’s temporarily blocked, they won’t be able to get to the egg.

Studies with this drug last year gave very good results, but only in mice. So, again, we have to keep in mind that what works in these animal models may not work in humans.

Another pharmacological variant was also tested this year in mice, consisting of adenylate cyclase inhibition. This is a protein that interferes with the movement of sperm in a different way. For this reason, again, if it is slowed down, the result is spermatozoa, unable to properly address your destination. This is fully reversible, but has not been tested in mice.

More research is needed and, above all, an understanding that while female hormonal contraceptives work in an acceptable way, it won’t hurt to find ways to allow men and women to share the burden of contraception.

Source: Hiper Textual

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