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Male Birth Control Pill Shows 99% Effectiveness; Human Trials Set For This Year

Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 03, 2022

    Male Birth Control Pill Shows 99% Effectiveness; Human Trials Set For This Year

    While many actively-engaging couples only rely on contraception methods available for women, condoms, and a vasectomy procedure for men, things may soon change. Scientists revealed 99% effectiveness of male birth control pills on mice. This preliminary research brings light to producing oral contraceptives for men, as well as expanding options for them. 

    Researchers Presented Their Male Birth Control Pill Study 

    U.S. scientists have developed a male birth control pill that is 99% effective in mice while causing no side effects. These findings were presented at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society. Hence, an important step toward increasing contraceptive options for men and better sharing the burden of birth control with women.

    Women have a variety of choices for controlling their menstrual cycle which include the following:

  • Intrauterine devices (IUD)
  • Implant
  • Injectables
  • Combined oral contraceptives
  • Patch
  • Hormonal vaginal contraceptive ring
  • However, on the flip side, male contraception only takes regard to two effective options to date. Men could only either reach for condoms or consider a surgical procedure through vasectomy. 

    Vasectomy refers to a type of male birth control that reduces the amount of sperm available to the sperm.

    However, condoms are only good for one-time use alongside their other disadvantages. In addition to that, vasectomies are also difficult to reverse. This is why researchers are actively developing a male birth control that is effective, long-lasting, and reversible.

    “Scientists have been trying for decades to develop an effective male oral contraceptive, but there are still no approved pills on the market,” Md Abdullah Al Noman said during his presentation at the meeting. 

    The significant proportion of compounds currently in clinical trials focuses more on the male sex hormone testosterone. This, in turn, may result in different side effects such as the following:

    Norman, a graduate student in the lab of Gunda Georg, Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota under the name of Norman, mentioned that they wanted to create a non-hormonal male contraceptive to avoid such side effects. Thus, bringing them to this specific inquiry. 

    More About the Study

    The research team put their concentration on retinoic acid receptor (RAR) alpha to create a non-hormonal drug.

    Inside the body, vitamin A is converted into various forms, including retinoic acid, which is essential for the following processes:

    • Cell growth
    • Cell differentiation (as well as sperm formation)
    • Embryo development

    In order to operate efficiently, retinoic acid must interact with RAR-alpha. According to the researchers, knocking out the RAR- gene in male mice renders them sterile with no obvious side effects.

    As a result, the researchers created a compound that inhibits RAR-alpha activity. They used a computer model to determine the best molecular structure.

    They discovered a compound called YCT529 that inhibited RAR-α nearly 500 times more powerfully than β and -γ. When it was orally administered to male mice for four weeks, it significantly reduced sperm counts and was 99% effective in controlling pregnancy with no observable side effects. But, the mice were able to father pups again 4-6 weeks after inexposure to the compound.

    According to Georg, human trials for male birth control pills will begin in the third or fourth quarter of this year. 

    “Because it can be difficult to predict if a compound that looks good in animal studies will also pan out in human trials, we’re currently exploring other compounds, as well,” she said. 

    Furthermore, the researchers are modifying existing compounds and testing new structural scaffolds to detect the next-generation compounds. They are hopeful that their efforts will lead to the development of the long-elusive oral male contraceptive.

    Learn more about Contraception here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 03, 2022

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