Male birth control: of mice, not yet men

Male birth control has been confirmed by a Boston laboratory after positive results on its tiny patients.

WRITTEN BY: Mackenzie Dye
A male birth control pill may join common contraceptives such as condoms and female hormone pills.
Image Source: Jenny Lee Silver via Flickr
A male birth control pill may join common contraceptives such as condoms and female hormone pills.

Male birth control has been as sought after as female Viagra, and now birth control has recently tiptoed across the gender line as reports have confirmed a male birth control drug may be released in the next decade. According to a study published August 17 in the scientific journal, Cell, researchers may have found a way around the fundamental issues concerning a male prescription birth control.

 The issue regarding male birth control has been that for females the drug is much simpler to realize: a female only needs her egg to be blocked each month, while a male “produces millions of sperm each day -- about 1,000 every time his heart beats,” according to the Los Angeles Times

The new male birth control being tested on male mice reduces the sperm count to such a dismal number that the recipient of the drug is rendered infertile.Then in the experiment, those male mice given the male birth control drug were taken off of it and tested with normal sperm counts, restoring fertility.

Male birth control was not the aim of scientist in the Boston laboratory that made the discovery, according to Boston.com. Dr. James Bradner was working on a drug that could potentially spawn cancer-fighting cells at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The drug was found to have an effect on the mice’s normal sperm development, which caused researchers to believe that male birth control could be effective in responsible family planning.

Although they have hit the tiniest tip of the iceberg, scientists are hopeful of the possible drug’s potential, the drug being a molecule called JQ1. Researchers realize the lifestyle changes that would occur if a male birth control existed. “Everybody would like a better solution than condoms and birth control pills,” said Dr. David Clapham, according to Boston.com

As far as male birth control goes for now, men should stick with condoms in addition to female birth control. However, both sexes can be hopeful for future developments that help more than mice.

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