Popping the pill each day has long been a lady's responsibility when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancy, but new research has set in motion the development of a similar contraception method for men. Yes, that's right, a male birth control pill could be hitting drug stores in the near future, according to a study conducted at Monash University in Australia.
But don't get too excited. The research was done on mice, and it will be years before a viable male contraceptive pill is available for humans. Still, the science is pretty convincing. As you can imagine, creating an effective pill for men poses a much greater challenge--biologically speaking--compared to existing methods, like condoms. Female birth control works by preventing the release of a single egg, while male birth control would theoretically have to stop the 1,500 sperm cells a man produces each second. That's quite a large crowd to keep under control.
Rather than blocking the production of sperm itself, researchers are attempting to block the transportation of it. When a man is close to climax, hormones are released and captured by muscle receptors that tell muscles to contract, and send sperm on its merry way. Ideally, researchers would like to find a way to prevent these contractions, but up until now most attempts have resulted in decreased male fertility.
While more research needs to be done on the side effects of blocking these receptors receptors, the findings suggest that men taking the pill would not be in any kind of danger. The idea of a male birth control pill is simply food for thought at the moment, but a few years down the line you could be calling in a prescription right alongside your significant other, or perhaps, taking over that responsibility entirely.
- Hugh Herr's TED Talk on BiomechatronicsA look back on this MIT professors discussion on reinventing the human machine.
- Natural "Stomach Clock" Tells You When to EatResearchers discover your body's sensitivity to circadian rhythms can affect your eating habits, potentially leading to greater weight loss.