Illustrated by Isabelle Rancier.
Male birth control is just one of those things we've hoped for, but figured might never exist. So discouraged were we that we started wishing for outlandish apps that would force us to take our pill on time. However, a new study reveals that oral contraception for men is within reach — maybe in the next 10 years.
Australian researchers at Monash University collaborated with the University of Melbourne and Britain's University of Leicester for the study, which tested a group of genetically modified male mice. This modification blocks two proteins found on smooth muscle cells. These proteins are necessary for sperm to travel through reproductive organs. Essentially, the researchers were able to paralyze the part of the mice's anatomy that ejects sperm.
According to Sabatino Ventura, a researcher on the project, the study shows "that simultaneously disrupting the two proteins that control the transport of sperm during ejaculation causes complete male infertility — but without affecting the long-term viability of sperm or the sexual or general health of males. The sperm is effectively there, but the muscle is just not receiving the chemical message to move it." The hope, then, is to replicate that genetic modification in an oral drug that's "effective, safe, readily reversible," and, most importantly, for men.
Ventura's method is non-hormonal, so it won't impact sperm development. And, to quell any fears, it won't cause impotency or permanent infertility. Of course, it's important to remember that no oral contraception protects against STDs. But, it looks like women will soon be passing the no-baby baton to their male counterparts. We look forward to setting their iPhone calendar reminders. (Yahoo)