It’s about time that men should also share responsibility with women in terms of being educated about effective contraceptive methods. Researchers and scientists around the world are now working on male contraceptive products that are potentially safer, more effective, and more convenient than the current contraceptives out in the market. Men should have access to reliable and reversible contraceptive options beyond condoms and vasectomies. Currently underway are several other male contraceptives given as injections, implants or patches based mostly on hormones which trick the brain into switching off hormone production.
Over a decade ago, the drug treatments for schizophrenia and high blood pressure were found to have the effect of stopping men from ejaculating. These drugs also had other side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness, which later led to the conclusion that they could not be used as contraceptives. Tests on human tissue have revealed that some chemicals can have the same effect and help stop men from ejaculating. Researchers from King’s College in London have also determined that these chemicals prevent the longitudinal muscle in the vas deferens from contracting to propel sperm out of the penis. The team is now planning to use the chemicals in animal studies, and later on, with humans. They are hoping that in five years time, an alternative male contraceptive could already be released in the market.
The dosage for men is one pill a day, which is similar to the dosage given to women who use the female contraceptive pill. or could take one a few hours before they plan to have sex. The effect of infertility caused by this drug is only temporary. Developers of the new contraceptive say that a man’s fertility should return the next day because the contraceptive is not dependent on hormones.
“If a man was taking the pill over a period of several months and decided to come off it, we would expect his fertility to return just as quickly as if he had taken it on a one-off basis,” said Dr. Christopher Smith regarding the research. The concept is welcomed by women who find it really tiring to be always the one in charge of fertility. As Rebecca Findlay of the Family Planning Association have said, “For women, it would be another form of liberation.”
Although Dr Allan Pacey, Honorary Secretary of the British Fertility Society, welcomed the idea with reservation, he said that he was concerned that the sperm would be ‘redirected’ into urine, or may be present in the urethra, and that pregnancy could therefore still occur.
There are some sectors and pharmaceutical companies, however, that are skeptical about the concept’s appeal with the male population regarding new contraceptive products, its side effects, issues about sensation and infertility, as well as the lack of fund for most research studies. On-going trials of a male contraceptive which combines an implant and regular injections to lower sperm production temporarily have started in the United Kingdom but scientists are having trouble in recruiting men to take part in the study. The public is encouraged to participate in on-going survey and tests as volunteers. The aggregated results of the survey will be used to show policymakers that there is demand and future for new male contraceptives.