The Happy Trail

Developments with male contraception

By Lucas Takiff

Why are most of the options for birth control made for people assigned female at birth? A portion of it is due to sexism within the science community, which comes as no surprise. On top of that, there are also biological variables responsible for a portion of the disparity, like the high number of sperm that can be produced every day. Thankfully, new ground is being broken here as both hormonal and non-hormonal male birth control make promising steps forward.

At the University of Washington, a new hormonal gel combination of testosterone and progestin is being developed by researchers looks promising. When applied to the shoulders, it is found to drastically lower sperm count. Historically, the ways testosterone was modified were toxic for the heart, liver and kidney. There were also increases in the chances of developing prostate cancer. None of these previous problems are applicable to the new gel. There have been minor side effects found concerning weight gain, changes in libido, acne, and mood swings, however, these side effects are comparable to the hormonal side effects found in female birth control.

In the non-hormonal side of research, scientists have been working with retinoic acid receptors to inhibit sperm production temporarily. When researchers inhibit these receptors in mice, they are able to make them temporarily sterile for four to six weeks without provoking side effects. Leader of this study, Gunda Georg, Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, makes sure to note that, “Because it can be difficult to predict if a compound that looks good in animal studies will also pan out in human trials, we’re currently exploring other compounds, as well.” These other compounds are going to be much easier to work with after the research they are currently conducting and will hopefully get the white whale that is oral male contraception.

With reproduction rights in a perilous place right now, it’s more important than ever we stay informed and continue working toward a more progressive society. Stay safe and smart, Loggers.