When it comes to birth control, it has always been something that women are made responsible for. We are the ones that are at risk of getting pregnant, so it was considered more important to put effort into finding options that work well for women to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
This mindset of putting most of the responsibility on women might be shifting soon. There is a new form of non-hormonal birth control for men that has been under research, and human trials are expected to begin by the end of the year. Male contraceptives have previously been limited to condoms or surgery, so having another option would be an amazing feat.
This new contraceptive was developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota, and it has proven to be 99% effective at preventing pregnancy in mice. It is non-hormonal and works by targeting how men’s bodies interact with vitamin A. Vitamin A has been proven to have a direct link to mammals' fertility, and this birth control is designed to block the protein responsible for binding with vitamin A in the body.
The birth control was proven effective in mice after four weeks of treatment, their sperm count dropped, becoming sterile. As long as the mice were on the medication, the sterile effect continued, but after four to six weeks of stopping the treatment, they were no longer sterile. Once we are able to get some human testing done to show how effective the treatment would be, this non-hormonal male birth control could be a game-changer for the world of contraception.
The reason for focusing on a non-hormonal option for men is based on the low tolerance for side effects that men would have. Lead researcher, Md Abdullah Al Noman, a graduate student in medicinal chemistry at the University of Minnesota stated, “Since men do not have to suffer the consequences of pregnancy, the threshold for side effects from birth control pills is rather low.” Suggesting that since women are at risk of getting pregnant, we are more tolerant of any side effects our birth control might come with. I can say as a woman that has been on birth control, we would love to also have better options with limited side effects, but that is a discussion for another time.
This isn’t the first time a form of male contraception has been tested, but it has been a long and challenging process. Hopefully, trials with this contraceptive will go well and we will have another form of viable contraception for men.