Scientists have developed the worlds male alternative to the female contraceptive pill.
Published: 6:21AM BST 28 Jun 2010
Until now all attempts to develop a male pill have failed with scientists working on a contraceptive jab for men given by doctors.
But researchers in Israel have finally been able to create a oral pill that deactivates sperm before they reach the womb.
And theyve developed a version that means it only needs to be to be taken once every three months.
The breakthrough pill could be available in as little as three years, according to the scientist behind the discovery.
Unlike the jab form of the male pill it doesnt use a combination of the male hormone testosterone and the female hormone progesterone to block pregnancy.
The scientist behind the male pill discovery has developed a tablet that removes a vital protein in sperm that is required for a woman to conceive.
So while sperm still get through to the uterus they are unable to fertilise an egg.
Using this approach, researchers believe they have a pill that is 100 pc effective at stopping pregnancy.
Not only is it long lasting but it also has other pluses. There are no side effects as suffered by women who take the contraceptive pill.
Men on the male equivalent hormone jabs, which are still undergoing trials report feelings of moodiness, depression and loss of sex drive.
Professor of Haim Breitbart of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, who has helped develop the pill said: Men dont cope well with side effects and having side effects would probably put many off wanting to take a pill. Weve had none of those problems with our pill.
What we found is that by treating the mice with our molecule we can get sterility for a long period of time -in the lower dose, about one month, and in the higher dose we found three months of sterility.
The mice behaved nicely, They ate and had sex. All I can say is that we couldn’t see any behavioural side-effects – all their sex behaviour was retained, which is a very important consideration for men. Human trials of the pill are due to start next year.
A big drawback against men being in control of fertility is the fear they would forget to take a pill.
Polls have repeatedly shown wives and partners do not trust their men to remember to pop a pill every day.
But now that problem has been solved. The new pill can be taken either once a month or once every three months.
Professor Breitbart said: “I think most women would trust their man to remember once a month or once a quarter.
Breitbarts pill jams the sperm’s chemical machinery that allows it to create a pregnancy. So while the sperm reaches the womb it dies away unable to fertilise the egg.
He said: We looked at a number of compounds that have no effect on male sex drive, but succeed in impairing the reproductive ability of the sperm.
Because there are no hormonal side effect we believe that it will be fairly easy to get approval for this pill.
Professor Breitbat stunned the world of fertility science four years ago by revealing the commonly held belief that conception was immediate once sperm entered the womb.
The research showed that sperm could surive for up to three days before fertilisation took place.
Professor Breitbart said: I then decided to turn my interest to see how to stop that process. I wanted to develop a form of male contraception that would be free of an intervention using hormpones.