Researchers believe they are close to developing an oral contraceptive for men that when taken can both inhibit sperm creation, while avoiding infertility through usage.
Scientists at Columbia University’s Medical Center tested a new drug against the retinoic acid receptors (RARs), which are metabolites of vitamin A (deficiency of the dietary vitamin can cause sterility), and found that the low dosages of the chemical caused sterility in the male mice subjects they examined.
Importantly, the researchers found that while it seemed to stop sperm production overall, there were no discernable side effects and fertility was achieved again only shortly after discontinuing application. This is potentially a positive step forward and moves considerably away from previous male contraceptives that were steroid-based. These are largely known for the dangerous reactions patients could experience; ranging from cardiovascular disease, prostate complications and lowered sex drive.
Dr. Debra J. Wolgemuth, senior author of this research, commented on the positive distinction between previous treatments and this new compound. “We have seen no side effects, so far, and our mice have been mating quite happily,” she said. Fellow author and colleague Dr Sanny S. W. Chung noted further positives about the possible treatment.
“[The] additional benefit of our compound is that it can be taken orally as a pill, avoiding the [previous] injection process.” said Dr. Chung. “It also appears to have a very rapid effect on sperm production and an even more rapid recovery when fertility is desired.”
While long-term impacts on fertility, from taking the new drug over several years for example, are still to be studied and established; the results offer a possible alternate for men once the safety and effectiveness has been established.