For years now, women have been bearing the brunt of birth control pills and procedures. So many options available have been centered on women apart from condoms, and vasectomy that has proved efficient on men but has little acceptance due to the procedure.
But that is about to change, Indian scientists have announced that clinical trials have been completed on the first contraceptive injection for men.
The contraceptive works via an injection to a sperm-containing tube near the testicles. And it’s produced with Styrene Maleic Anhydride, a polymer developed in the 1970’s that inhibits sperm production.
The contraceptive lasts for 13 years before it loses its potency, and it has been sent to the National Controller General of India for final approval. If approved, it will serve as the first male-consumer contraceptive in the world.
Dr. RS Sharma, senior scientist with Indian Council of Medical Research, told Hindustan Times:
“The product is ready, with only regulatory approvals pending with Drugs Controller. The trials are over, including extended, phase 3 clinical trials for which 303 candidates were recruited with 97.3% success rate and no reported side effects. The product can safely be called the world’s first male contraceptive.”
But the trial is going to take another six months; this is to ensure that everything is perfected before the drug becomes available to consumers. VG Somani, the Drug Controller General of India said:
“It’s the first in the world from India so we have to be extra careful about approval. We are looking at all aspects, especially the Good Manufacturing practice (GMP) certification that won’t raise any questions about its quality.
“It will still take about six to seven months for all the approvals to be granted before the product can be manufactured,” he said.
For almost half a century, scientists have been working on male contraceptive that will be widely accepted and probably take the place of condoms and vasectomy. Contraceptives have been mainly a woman’s business, about 20% of married women or those in a relationship use sterilization, 14% rely on the coil, 9% on the pill, and 5% on injections.
World over, the majority of men are noted not to be directly involved in contraceptive business, when they do, they rely completely on condoms. It is only about 2% who have shown interest in vasectomy.
While male contraceptives have been narrowed to two, women have been bombarded by all kinds of it since the early 1960s when the first female contraceptive pill was mass produced. The pill however, has become the popular choice for women around the world, it is estimated that over 100 million women rely on the contraceptive pills.
Scientists have always been confronted with the question: “why are there no male contraceptive pills yet”? The answer to the question touches a lot of factors.
Some scientists claim that the science behind male contraceptive is more complicated than female contraceptive. The male pill works by inhibiting sperm production, and the level of hormones needed to produce it can cause side effects. More to that, science has focused more on the female anatomy more than men, which is why gynecology is a popular subject while andrology is little known of.
Common side effects such as weight gain, mood swings and lowered sex drive are things men cannot reckon with, since they are considered emasculating.
Although there have been research works and trials to produce male contraceptives that will be widely acceptable, each time, a defect surfaces and stalls the progress. For instance, the “clean sheet bill,” a male contraceptive that enables a sperm-free orgasm, was not approved because ejaculation is of utmost importance in men’s sexuality.
These factors have held back the availability of male contraceptive pills over the decades. And there is also the unwillingness of men to take such responsibility as a factor, as the number of men who are willing to use vasectomy has shown. Vasectomy was invented almost 200 years ago, but only 2% of men have shown interest in the procedure.
But the trend is changing; a new generation of young men are willing to share marital responsibilities to the extent possible. That means, a lot of young men are willing to use male contraceptives if available.
While there is hope that men’s contraceptive pill will be made available in the near future, the new “contraceptive injection” will come in as a bridge to a responsibility gap that has been lying on the shoulders of women for decades.