Male Birth Control Will Relieve Women's Age-Old Burden
I’ve been on birth control since I was 17. I never had “the talk” with my parents, but what I did get was a phone call from my dad saying, “You’re going on the pill. Don’t get pregnant.” He didn’t even know if I was sexually active, but I can see why he didn’t want to take any chances. The responsibility to remain childless, however, fell upon me—and, to be honest, it’s always felt like more of a burden. Growing up, I was told that if I got pregnant, that would be my problem. And as many women can attest, this isn’t a light weight to carry.
Well soon, men might be able to take some of this burden off of women. Male birth control has been in the making for about ten years, and a Dr. Gunda Georg, along with her team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, have come up with a new foundation for this contraceptive. At the 251st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the research team revealed a new route they’ll be taking to create a pharmaceutical male birth control that won’t mess with the body’s testosterone.
“There are three receptors: alpha, beta, gamma,” Georg told Broadly. “Studies have been done in animals that have a deficiency in the alpha receptor. These animals are quite healthy and quite normal; they don’t really need that receptor for anything other than sperm production. So if you could block that receptor [in humans], pharmacologically, you could induce infertility. Of course, once you stop the treatment, fertility would return normally.”
Prior attempts at male birth control hadn’t made it onto the market, mainly because their side effects seemed to outweigh any positive results. By contrast, Georg’s non-hormonal method would not cause common side effects like weight gain or changes in cholesterol levels—side effects that, interestingly, result from most female birth controls.
Some forms of male birth control are too extreme to appeal to its demographic. One method called Bimek SLV uses a surgically implanted, mechanical on-and-off switch to control the release of sperm. As if that weren’t enough, it was also created by a German carpenter—which just about covers every ingredient needed for a horror movie.
Aiming for convenience above all else, Georg and her team are modifying the contraceptive so that it has equal solubility, specificity, and stability. She estimates this could take about six months before it’s ready to be tested. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting.
Lead imagery by Kathryn Chadason. Additional imagery via Broadly.
Stay tuned to Milk for more methods of birth control, because sex is fun and babies aren’t.