A Birth Control Pill for Men? Maybe

New research shows promise for an oral contraceptive designed for males.

By: Melissa Romero

Guys, take note: Soon you may have access to a birth control made just for you.

Scientists have been working on developing a male birth control pill after finding that a certain compound successfully inhibited male mice from producing sperm. The research was recently published in the journal Cell.

For the study, researchers injected male mice daily with the molecule JQ1 or a control for three to six weeks. The mice ranged from three to nine weeks old.

Post-treatment, researchers found that all age groups showed a reduction in testicular volume; younger males showed the highest reduction at 75.4 percent.

In addition, sperm counts were significantly reduced after six weeks of daily exposure to JQ1. Only 5 percent of the sperm demonstrated motility, compared with 85 percent of sperm from the control group.

Research to develop an oral contraceptive for men has been ongoing, but has proven elusive over the years. And men’s reactions to the possibility of taking a birth control pill have been split in certain polls. One conducted by Men’s Health found that 51 percent of men would take the pill, while 49 percent said, “No way!” However, the researchers noted other recent studies that found 70 percent of men in favor of a birth control pill for males. 

With regards to the concern of males potentially developing permanent infertility, researchers noted, “We have only observed full recovery of fertility in treated males,” including testicle size, sperm number, and motility.

So how soon could the pill be developed for humans? Study co-author Martin Matzuk told US News & World Report that it may come within the next ten years, though more clinical trials will be needed, specifically with humans. Said another researcher, Qinglei Li, in a statement: “It does not mean a male birth control yet, but it is a great step forward in that direction.” 

The full study is available on Cell’s website