A team of researchers led Dr. Lee Smith at the University of Edinburgh have identified a gene, Katnal1, involved in male infertility.
The expression of this gene is required for the release of mature sperm. So, when it’s disrupted only immature sperm are released.
This finding has great potential for future treatment of male fertility and the development of a non-hormonal male contraceptive.
It’s likely that drugs aimed at stopping Katnal1gene expression will form the basis of this pill, as the testes would continue making sperm, but only ineffective, immature sperm would be released.
Overall, Dr Smith remarks that drugs based on this kind of contraception wouldn’t have any long-term effects on a man’s sperm-making ability. And, the effects of such a drug would be reversible, just like the female contraceptive pill.
Great! Where do I sign up? Oh wait! I can’t sign up- it’s for males. And here’s where it all gets very interesting.
In a poll conducted at the end of May 2012 in Huff Post UK, Women’s section, asking the question “Would you trust a man to take the contraceptive pill?” From the 100 plus comments on this article, it seems that men and women are at odds over the issue.
51.38 percent of voters responded that they wouldn’t trust a man to take the contraceptive pill.
Of the male voices, many stated that they would be just as reliable as women in taking a daily contraceptive pill. The sentiment expressed was that it would also be in their interest. Afterall, “how do you know that the woman really did take her pills that month?”. This comment, of course, reflects how women would feel about men around this issue too.
Arguably as one reader commented, this option would be great for couples with responsible men doing well with it and irresponsible men not- just like women. So perhaps regardless of sex, some will struggle and some won’t.
In an even larger context, could a successful male contraceptive pill affect the economy? Some suggest that the cost of welfare, food stamps and other such assistance would drop as there would be fewer single moms out there and more money to spend. In short, would a male contraceptive pill actually stimulate the economy? It’s an interesting idea to ponder.
The social and financial implications of creating such a pill would be phenomenal-assuming of course, that we live in a perfect world where STDs didn’t exist right?
What are your thoughts on these issues?
Fenella Das Gupta is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist ( #47275) working in Northern California,specializing in fertility counseling. She works with individuals and couples as they make their way through the fertility maze. The other part of her work includes making fertility issues a newsworthy item, as she writes for The American Fertility Association.
This piece previously appeared on the The American Fertility Association website.