Several contraceptive pills are available in the market and for decades doctors have been prescribing the medication only for women. But now a male contraceptive pill has been found, as a compound from traditional Chinese medicine.
The safe and effective compound—triptolide—has been tested on mice and monkeys to make them temporarily infertile. The compound is extracted from a Chinese herb which is known as T. wilfordii Hook F. Traditionally the herb is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis—a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet.
There are reports that men who took the supplement for several months have displayed infertility and that is an unfortunate side effect. But this is what exactly researchers needed in a male contraceptive pill.
The New Study
For the new study, the researchers examined 10 compounds from the herb. The team singled out triptolide as the most ideal contraceptive candidate from T. wilfordii Hook F.
According to the research, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers found during the animal testing that a single daily oral dose rendered monkeys infertile within five to six weeks and male mice within three to four weeks.
Dr. Wei Yan, lead author of the study said: "Thanks to decades of basic research, which inspired us to develop the idea that a compound that targets a protein critical for the last several steps of sperm assembly would lead to the production of nonfunctional sperm without causing severe depletion of testicular cells."
As per the researchers involved in this study, triptolide is effective and easy to take as a pill. Since it is non-hormonal, it should not result in any unwanted mood or behavioral changes. No toxic side effects were noted either.
The process is completely reversible, which means that when the treatment is halted, fertility returns within four to six weeks found the study. The team is now trying to launch a human trial of the male contraceptive pill soon.
However, there are other methods such as ultrasound pulses which could kill sperm and gel injections that block the release of the sperm for a long time.