Thanks to a medical breakthrough, remembering to take birth control may now be on men’s To-Do lists. Scientists at the University of Wolverhampton believe they have found a way to stop sperm in their tracks –almost instantly. As part of their research examining cell-penetrating peptides, the scientists found that they could basically design peptides (aka amino acid compounds) that inhibit the movement of sperm. The research team was surprised to find out that their peptide compound works on healthy sperm within minutes, meaning that men could potentially take a pill or nasal spray or injection just before having sex. The effect of the compound is also temporary, which is beneficial for couples aren’t ready to start a family at the moment but who are concerned with the long-term effects of other forms of birth control, which could include altered hormone levels. Another upside of their research: the scientists can use cell-penetrating peptides to improve sperm motility, therefore aiding fertility.
This reproductive news is welcome, especially considering the other male contraceptive news this week. Although birth control shots for men were found to be nearly as effective as the pill for women in an international study, side effects such as mood changes, decline in libido, and depression actually caused the researchers to end the study earlier than anticipated. The injections used hormones to drastically lower sperm count, and the shots were found to be 95% effective in continuing users. Ironically, although women have complained about similar birth control-related side effects for years (in methods that have been approved and prescribed to women), the onus of birth control and contraceptives continue to rest heavily upon women even as links between birth control and depression and other health risks have come to light.