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Why are there no male contraceptives?

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The death of Carl Gerasi, the “father of the birth control pill”. His invention of the oral contraceptive pill for women in the 1960s has long been widely used, and it has become one of the three major contraceptive methods of human beings alongside condoms and ligations. His departure has brought people back to face the question: why is there no male contraceptive pill?

Is the male contraceptive pill necessary?

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The answer is yes.

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First of all, from the perspective of equality and fairness between men and women, the responsibility for contraception should be shared by both parties. Since there are female contraceptives, there should naturally be a corresponding male version.

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Secondly, among the three common contraceptive methods, condoms have a high failure rate and poor use experience; ligation surgery causes damage to the reproductive system of both sexes, and it is irreversible; as for oral contraceptives commonly used by women, the side effects are serious, in addition to affecting endocrine accelerated aging, and may even lead to a series of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.

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The existence of these problems means that the perfect contraceptive method has not yet emerged, and the advent of the male contraceptive pill is the most promising to fill this gap.

Is the male contraceptive pill scientifically achievable?

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The answer is yes.

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The principle of the male contraceptive pill is actually quite simple: lower testosterone levels, thereby reducing the sperm cells produced by the testes.

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This is completely achievable in medicine, and the effect can be achieved by injection, implantation or oral administration.

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Experiments have shown that hormone therapy can reduce sperm to the point where it is not enough to cause pregnancy after 6 weeks, with an effective rate of 99%. Not only will it not have multiple side effects like the female contraceptive pill, but it will not be as difficult to restore as removing the vasectomy – as long as you stop taking the pill for 16 weeks, you can restore fertility.

Is there a reliable male contraceptive pill now?

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Yes, but it has not been promoted, and most of them remain in the stage of animal experiments and clinical trials.

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The most famous is Eleven Testosterone Injection, which was originally used for clinical treatment of male hypogonadism. Studies have found that this male hormone supplemented from outside the body can also inhibit sperm production. After male injection, the contraceptive rate of yellow people reaches more than 90%, and that of Caucasians is about 60%. This injection is recommended by the World Health Organization and is known as “one shot per month for contraception”. It is currently undergoing multi-center Phase 3 clinical trials around the world, but has not yet been finally developed.

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Gossypol is the representative of oral male birth control drugs, and it is also the only drug that has ever been used in clinical practice. This chemical extracted from ordinary cottonseed has a super-strong effect on inhibiting sperm production, with an effective rate of 99%. The use of gossypol caused strong side effects in the 1970s. 1% of the users suffered from hypokalemia and paralysis. However, studies have shown that most of the side effects of the crude preparation of gossypol in the 1970s were due to its low purity and many impurities. At present, the purity of medicinal gossypol has reached 99.5%. As long as the dosage is correct, the occurrence of side effects can be avoided.

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A pill extracted from an Indonesian bush may be the first oral contraceptive for men. The plant belongs to the family Machanidae, a genus of Cordyceps, and has been used as a contraceptive by people on the island of Papua for a long time. The active ingredient in the plant destroys three key enzymes in semen, preventing them from properly entering the egg during fertilization. The pill is said to be 99 percent effective and has few side effects. Developers say the drug could be available by 2016.

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In addition, scientists have been trying to develop a vaccine that allows the immune system to besiege sperm, and the body regulates itself to achieve the effect of contraception without side effects. Now, the eppin protein, a key substance in making contraceptive vaccines, has been discovered. If injected into the male body, it can effectively inhibit the activity of sperm, thereby achieving the effect of contraception. Once this vaccine is rolled out, it will set off a groundbreaking revolution in the field of contraception.

Why is the male contraceptive pill slow to come out?

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After the birth of the female contraceptive pill, Geraci published an article on the feasibility of developing male contraceptives, but it has not been implemented. Today, 60 years later, there is still no formal male contraceptive pill on the market that can be widely used. What is the reason?

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First, the scientific challenges facing male contraceptives are more complex. Women produce only one fertile egg a month, while men can produce 30 million sperm a day, any of which can fertilize the egg cell. It is easier to disrupt the production of one egg cell than millions of sperm, which is why women often have to take sole responsibility for contraception.

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Second, male contraceptives require large-scale clinical trials before they can be put on the market, but pharmaceutical companies do not plan to invest in them. Today, when female contraceptives are widely accepted, the sales prospects of male contraceptives are not optimistic, and the acceptance and willingness of men to buy the drug are also questionable.

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Thirdly, from the perspective of culture and customs, male contraception is a relatively avant-garde concept. Most people still default that the responsibility for contraception should be borne by the woman. In addition, the way of suppressing sperm is more effective for Asian men than Western men. This has hindered the development of male contraceptives to a certain extent.

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Equal responsibilities for men and women are shared. In an era when household chores and property must be shared equally, the lack of male contraceptives is shocking and not so surprising. The hidden concepts and struggles of interests behind it are quite unspeakable.

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If you were a boy, would you be willing to try to share the pain and risks of your lover’s contraception?

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If you are a girl, will you feel more secure because of his brave commitment?

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