Contraceptive Research and Development
Hormonal Methods for Men
Methods being given the most attention
use of synthetic hormones, such as those
used in female birth control pills. Synthetic
hormones are the basis for a Chinese treatment known
as the "pill and patch method," which consists of an
oral pill containing progesterone (a female sex
hormone) and a skin patch containing testosterone.
This method has been found to temporarily lower a
man's sperm count to zero without causing long-term
infertility. Side effects may include abdominal
cramps, depression and headaches, similar to
side-effects felt by some female pill users. This
treatment and others using synthetic hormones are
still being researched, but many believe this type of
birth control could be available for men within five
or six years.
Another area of research is
immunocontraceptives, which use the body's own
immune system to attack the sperm-production process.
A vaccine would cause an immune response to a
hormone, FSH, without which sperm are unable to
mature. Once the vaccine wears off, men would return
to their normal fertility. One drawback is it's
effective only in two-thirds of the men tested thus
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This method works by vaccinating a woman against the female pregnancy hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) which is produced by the fertilized egg just after conception. When a pregnancy occurs and the embryo begins producing HCG, this molecule triggers an immune reaction against it, just as it would against a foreign invader. This kills the embryo, preventing pregnancy. The "vaccine" lasts for about one year.
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Fertility computers calculate which days women are fertile so that intercourse can be avoided to prevent pregnancy.
Clinical trials are now being conducted to obtain FDA approval for several models of fertility computers, but these are not currently on the market in the United States and must be ordered from overseas.
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