Preventing unwanted pregnancy is a shared responsibility between both sexes, but what if men had the same contraceptive options as women?
New research in male mice expands this possibility by examining a drug that halts sperm production, a development that may give rise to an oral contraceptive for men one day.
Featured in the journal Endocrinology, the experiments reveal that a specific compound - called BMS 189453 - successfully blocks the retinoic acid receptors needed to metabolize vitamin A. The vitamin assists with the division and maintenance of sperm cells. Rather than using hormones, as seen in female contraceptives, the drug used by the research team targets the production of vitamin A, which acts as a growth factor in testes.
Despite the role vitamin A plays in maintaining good vision, researchers say it uses a different pathway for sperm production and the drug would not negatively affect men's vision.
In the study, researchers gave mice a range of daily doses of the compound for different time frames. They found that the drug interrupted sperm production and caused sterility between two and four weeks' time. Unlike permanently altering a mouse's genes to make it sterile, the compound created temporary effects and did not seem to prevent mice from producing healthy offspring months after the drug wore off.