Fifty years after birth control pills became available for women, an Israeli scientist has invented a male contraceptive pill. Professor Haim Breitbart of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has developed a pill which strips a vital protein from sperm. So, while the sperm is still produced and still reaches the uterus, it is unable to fertilize the egg.
Professor Breitbart released a paper in 2006 which dispelled the long held belief that sperm must immediately fertilize an egg upon entering the uterus. His report showed sperm could survive in a uterus for three or more days. Building on this theory, he realized that sperm must have some way of synthesizing new proteins in the uterus or it would not survive. The new pill, called the Bright Pill, strips these necessary proteins from the sperm.
Pre-clinical testing on mice has shown promising results. Mice treated with the birth control solution were found to be sterile for one-month on a low dose and three months on a higher dose. The long lasting results will mean men only have to take the birth control once a month to once every three months. Polls have shown women do not trust men to take birth control pills every day. This should help alleviate some of those concerns.
Researchers believe the Bright Pill will be 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. The sterility is reversible; after discontinuing the contraceptive a man will be fertile.
The Bright Pill is being submitted for patent and human trials should begin some time next year. If all goes according to plan, the male contraceptive could be on the market in three to five years.
Mice behaved nicely
Unlike the female hormonal birth control pill, the Bright Pill shows no adverse side-effects. Men participating in trials on the hormonal jab, the male equivalent to the female contraceptive pill, reported moodiness, depression, and loss of sex drive. The Bright Pill does not use hormonal therapy thus avoiding side-effects caused by hormones.
Mice have shown no behavioral side-effects to the Bright Pill. “The mice behaved nicely,” Breitbart said, “they ate and they had sex.” Because the effects of the male pill would be highly specific, men would likely experience far fewer side effects than women who go on the pill.
This pill could, finally, place some of the responsibility for birth control on men. For fifty years, women have been able to take control of their own bodies and not rely on men for birth control. Now, women have many choices of pills or devices for birth control while men still have only one choice: condoms. With the world’s over-poulation problems, another birth control option for men is good news, indeed.