What are male contraceptives:
Unlike the wide spectrum of female contraceptives options, male contraceptives basically revolve around two options only. In other words, the available male contraceptives are condoms (a rubber barrier) and vasectomy (the vas deferns which is a sperm passage tube is cut) only for now. Eventhough some men use a withdrawal scenario where they pull out their partners before ejaculating, it's not a good option. In fact, the sperm might come out of the penis before even ejaculating.
Non-hormonal male contraceptives:
Non-hormonal contraceptives involve stopping the normal sperm from entering a female's vagina without using synthetic hormones. Since the vas deferns is the tube which the sperm use as a way out of the penis, the ways utilized often involve this tube.
Vasectomy is a simple surgical procedure concerning the vas deferens. In this procedure, the surgeon cuts and tie the vas deferens together as to completely and permanently block the sperm. Thus, the only track for the sperm to reach the urethra is no longer available resulting in sterilization. Consequently, the sperm will not mix with the semen, and rather it'll stay in the testicles until the body absorbs it. Moreover, it takes about 3 months for the semen to be completely deprived of any sperm.
Reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance (RISUG):
This is a rather safer and reversible technique which gives hope to every couple. Injecting a non harmful chemical which isn't toxic at all to the vas deferns is what this technique all about. The chemical is manmade to block and react with the vas deferns, in which the sperm dies when it comes in contact with the chemical. As a matter of fact, it's safe to resume your sex life right after the injection because it's directly active after the injection.
Intra-vas device (IVD):
Similarly, this technique involves an injection to the vas deferns. However, it's not a chemical but a plug this time. Besides, it's reversible as well since the removal of the plug is possible. The role of the plug is to filter the sperm that passes in the vas deferns. Consequently, the semen leaving the penis doesn't contain sperm.
Hormonal male contraceptives:
Hormonal male contraceptives are meant to render the sperm unhealthy with the use of synthetic hormones. Obviously, we all know that the sperm synthesis takes place in the testicles and that the process needs testosterone. Testosterone is a male hormone necessary for both the primary and secondary sexual characteristics development. Indeed, the goal of hormonal male contraceptives is to stop the testosterone from triggering the production of healthy sperms. This is a challenging approach due to the fact that testosterone levels shouldn't become very low. In fact, we're seeking for male contraceptive techniques without side effects, and we want to keep the sexual desire intact.
Synthetic testosterone and progesterone:
Progesterone is one of the most important sex hormones present in females. The use of this hormone in female contraceptives is prominent. Using such technique has both advantages and disadvantages.
Starting with the advantages:
- Inhibits testosterone production by the testes.
- Prevents having healthy sperm.
- Keeps testosterone healthy levels.
The disadvantages include:
- It fails and causes pregnancy for unknown reasons.
- The suppression rate isn't the same for all men regarding the ethnic differences.
Male contraceptive pill:
Early 2022, a breakthrough discovery of a non-hormonal drug that works as a male contraceptive took the spotlight. By targeting retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-alpha), which is a form of vitamin A, we can interfere with sperm production. To illustrate, this concept worked on mice, where the ones who doesn't have the gene coding for RAR-alpha were sterile. Certainly, there's no guarantee of it working on human males, so trials will be heald later during 2022.
Actually, such pill provided 99% effectiveness in ceasing pregnancy in mice. The drug role is to block the RAR-alpha through a chemical compound "YCT529" designed exactly to do so. In addition, there's no side effects as the mice can be fertile again after 4-6 weeks once they stop having the drug.
-Amory JK. Male contraception. Fertil Steril. 2016;106(6):1303-1309. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.08.036
-Thirumalai A, Page ST. Male Hormonal Contraception. Annu Rev Med. 2020;71:17-31. doi:10.1146/annurev-med-042418-010947
-France 24 "Male Contraceptive pill found 99% effective in mice"
-NHS inform "The pill for men"
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