"The Pill" for Men
For many women, it's a familiar cycle: hit puberty, become sexually active, obtain birth control pills. The onus of birth control has historically tended to fall upon the woman, simply because we have such a wide array of contraceptives from which to choose. From "the pill," to IUDs, to annual shots, it often falls on the woman to control most of the safe sex process. It's typically easier, more effective and, well, sometimes you just don't have a condom on hand.
This may not be the case for very long. Men may soon be getting their very own birth control pill designed specifically to reduce sperm production. Research conducted by Michelle Welch at the Centre of Reproductive Biology at the Queen's Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh, UK, has discovered how androgenic hormones work to control sperm production and male fertility.
By removing a gene from a section of the testes, the Welch's team was able to find how and where androgenic hormones work to control sperm production. Researchers compared two groups of mice - one group with the gene, one group without. The group that did not possess the gene had a significantly lowered sperm count, which resulted in complete infertility.
Although this seems to be a promising course toward providing men with more birth control options, it also raises several concerns. Hormone therapy is a controversial issue, as it can often have severe side effects. For instance, taking birth control and nevertheless conceiving a baby can increase the chances that the child will have severe birth defects.
It's unknown what kind of side effects a male hormone pill could have. Researchers also believe that "the pill" for men could be used to, alternatively, increase sperm count. This could offer an entirely different option for those couples struggling in their efforts to conceive a child.
Source: Science Daily