News FocusContraception Research

Reinventing the Pill: Male Birth Control

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Science  19 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6105, pp. 318-320
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6105.318

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Contraceptive drugs for women work relatively well, making the development of a male pill seem less urgent. But intrauterine devices require a medical provider to insert, can have serious complications, and cost up to $1000, and not all women can tolerate the pill. At a closed meeting in November in Houston, Texas, about 30 top biologists will swap ideas about new genetic and biochemical leads for male contraceptives. The most promising leads involve disrupting the maturation of sperm in the testes, and although funds are tight, clinical trials for a few approaches could begin within the next few years. But producing an effective, safe, cheap, targeted, well-tolerated, bioavailable, easy-to-manufacture, side-effect-free, and (whew) completely reversible male pill won't be easy.