This pill would slow down sperm, making it “ideal” for non-hormonal contraception
At present, only two types of contraception exist for men – condoms and vasectomies. But promising new research about a potential non-hormonal “male pill” is creating some buzz, and has a lot of women thinking, “um, hello?”
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have created a compound called EP055, a substance that binds to sperm proteins, slowing their swim. “Simply put, the compound turns off the sperm’s ability to swim, significantly limiting fertilization capabilities,” said lead investigator Michael O’Rand. “This makes [the new drug] an ideal candidate for non-hormonal male contraception.”
Basically, they’re taking Michael Phelps, sending him to an all-you-can-eat buffet, throwing him in a straight jacket, and dumping him into the pool. And while it’s only been tested in male macaque monkeys, the results thus far are promising. The team found that the monkeys’ sperm slowed significantly about 30 hours after the injection, and no side effects were observed. “At 18 days post-infusion, all macaques showed signs of complete recovery, suggesting that the EP055 compound is indeed reversible,” said study co-investigator Mary Zelinski.
Researchers have looked into alternative options for male contraception for decades, including a rub-on gel that’s still in clinical trials and a pill that was initially proven safe and effective, except researchers couldn’t get enough men to stay in the study because they couldn’t handle the “mood swings, bloating and irritability” it caused.
This new EP055 is different though, because it takes the hormones out of the equation, leaving women everywhere screaming, “Hey there Mr. and Mrs. Scientist, sorry to be a pest, but could we get a non-hormonal option that’s not surgically implanted or nah?”
Women who take birth control pills have been dealing with side effects like weight gain, headaches, nausea, bloating, mood swings, weird break-through bleeding, and acne since forever. And that’s not the most frustrating. A major study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association found oral contraception has been linked to a higher rate of depression among women, and multiple studies have provided consistent evidence that the risks of breast and cervical cancers are increased in women who use oral contraceptives.
But hey, this one’s for men so scientists are taking extra measures to find a non-evasive, non-hormonal approach. Cool.
Obviously it would be amazing for men to be able to have other alternatives and if they can do so without side effects, that’s ideal. And if men take on the burden of contraception, all the better for women. And yes, the female reproductive system is reliant on hormones, so it’s difficult to prevent pregnancy without adjusting those hormones, which invariably leads to side effects.
But it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.