Could this be the future of contraceptives?
For the longest time, women have been largely responsible for preventing pregnancies, but it looks like things are finally changing. Scientists are now closer than ever to finally developing a male contraceptive pill. After 50 years since the introduction of The Pill, researchers from the University of Wolverhampton in the UK have discovered a way to “switch off” the sperm’s ability to swim, thus making men temporarily infertile.
“The results are startling—and almost instant"
Lead researcher Professor John Howl told The Telegraph that the results were immediate. “The results are startling—and almost instant," he said. "When you take healthy sperm and add our compound, within a few minutes the sperm basically cannot move."
Howl and his team did this by creating a compound that could penetrate the sperm cell and manipulate how it works.
“We are basically designing peptides that can alter the physiology of sperm," explained Dr. Sarah Jones in a media release. "Ironically, sperm are notoriously difficult to penetrate, but with cell penetrating peptides we are now able to cross an otherwise impermeable barrier to manipulate the intracellular biology of sperm so as to enhance or inhibit motility.
"We hope to develop something that will be clinically useful and can be taken forward in the future.”
So far, Howl and his team have tested their compound on cow and human sperm. Within the next three years, they will be testing on live animals.
On the next page: how a male contraceptive pill could change everything.