The boys and the bees

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  July 18, 2007

If scientists and drug companies can come up with five new female contraceptives (on top of all those that already existed), you’d think they could come up with at least one male version (other than a condom).

A 2004 study published in Human Reproduction found that 55 percent of 9000 surveyed men would be up for taking on birth control responsibility in the form of a hormonal pill or injection. So it’s not lack of interest that’s slowing things down.

Still, even the most promising method, which is in phase one of clinical trials in Louisiana, Florida, and Minnesota, is four or more years away from public availability. That method, an intra-vas device (IVD for short) would place two plugs in a man’s vas deferens, blocking sperm. It would be short, simple surgery. But the problem is that researchers don’t yet know how reversible it would be.

Meanwhile, researchers who are developing hormonal contraception for men — which would certainly be reversible (like its female counterpart) — are struggling to come up with funding. At the end of June, the Bayer pharmaceutical company, which had been working on a combo injection-implant method for men, halted research and development on that project. The company said it didn’t think men would go for such a complicated method.

“What they have to offer isn’t what men want,” agrees Elaine Lissner, director of the San Francisco-based Male Contraception Information Project.

We’re not so sure they want something called the “Dry Orgasm Pill” either, which is being developed in Britain. But we know some girls who would.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Health and Fitness, Medicine, Sexual and Reproductive Health,  More more >
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