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June 15, 2007

Are men getting their own birth control pill?

Primarily men have two options when it comes to birth control: using a condom or getting a vasectomy. Some men complain about lack of sensation while using a condom during intercourse, and for others having the surgery isn’t exactly on the top of their “to do” list (not to mention the second surgical procedure required if they decide they want to reverse it).

But not all is lost. According to the latest research a male birth control pill may be on the market soon, allowing men to take a more progressive role in contraception use.

So what took so long? One reason is the utter lack of interest (and funding) from the pharmaceutical companies. This lack of funding has made it hard to entice talent to the field: In total, there are only about 10 specialists in male contraception in this country. The other (more obvious) reason is that men and women’s bodies are, well, different.

Birth control pills for women contain synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone, which prevent the ovaries every month from releasing an egg for fertilization. But, and you knew there was going to be a “but”, instead of releasing just one egg during monthly ovulation, men release about 120 million sperm with each ejaculation which in turn makes it more difficult to control.

So how will the male pill work you ask? Well it’s all about that uber-macho hormone testosterone, which is responsible for sperm production in the testes, hair growth, muscle mass and sexual characteristics. If a man is given extra testosterone it could shut down sperm production. Normally, at the start of the sperm-production cycle, the hypothalamus in the brain releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which triggers the release of fertility hormones called gonadotropins (FSH and ICSH) from the pituitary gland. ICSH signals the testes to produce testosterone, and FSH and testosterone tell the testes to produce sperm. When sperm production is complete, the testes release testosterone and a hormone called inhibin into the body, which tells the brain that there’s enough sperm. This stops the release of sperm-producing hormones.

Sounds great? Well just like female birth control pills there can be unwanted side effects. The problem is that by giving a man the amount of testosterone necessary to suppress sperm production, it can also cause acne, weight gain, prostate-gland growth and abnormal liver function.

That’s why scientists are also looking at a combination pill of testosterone and another hormone, progesterone (also found in female birth control pills). In men, progesterone inhibits sperm production in the testes. The drawback is that it can also affect those two things so intrinsic to the male psyche: their sexuality and sexual characteristics. To counteract the effects of progesterone injections of testosterone must also be administered to maintain those vital characteristics.

There is only one burning question, will men take it? According to a survey of 2,000 men in Capetown, Edinburgh, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, 67% were interested in some form of hormonal birth control. It also showed that men were ready to take on more responsibility for contraception usage and took into account their partner’s needs.

Researchers estimate that a male type of birth control should be available in about five years, but it will most likely be in the form of an injection or implant. As for a male birth control pill, the future is a little cloudy.

BirthControlBuzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, birth control types (prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase birth control on-line. For more information on types of birth control call 1-866-868-8850 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.

Birth Control Buzz is a service company that provides birth control prices, types of birth control(prescription required), health administrative services, and birth control statistics predominantly to US patients seeking to purchase pharmaceuticals on-line. For more information, call 1-866-868-8850 or visit http://www.birthcontrolbuzz.com/.