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Birth Control For Men Edges Closer 407

Posted by Soulskill
from the having-trouble-getting-past-the-last-sentence dept.
ananyo writes "Developing oral contraceptives for men has not gone as swiftly as researchers imagined in the early 1970s; they suggested at the time that a 'male pill' was not far off. But researchers now report a new way to make male mice temporarily infertile. Although the treatment is not ready for human use, the method avoids some of the pitfalls of earlier attempts. The technique appears to have a much more specific action than previous methods: it impairs sperm production by blocking a protein called BRDT. This protein was singled out as a potential therapeutic target five years ago because it only occurs in the testes, where it is required for the division of sperm cells. If the approach proves safe in humans, it would be an improvement over hormone-based methods of male contraception, which are not completely effective and cause side effects such as mood swings, acne and a loss of libido (abstract). On the downside, however, the compound 'shrank the mice's testes.'"
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Birth Control For Men Edges Closer

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  • by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @05:22AM (#41043945) Homepage Journal

    "No major side effects; it'll only shrink your testicles!"

    • Re:Nice tagline... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cryacin (657549) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @05:29AM (#41043971)
      I have yet to meet a woman that finds big balls a turn on. As a man, you need big balls in the metaphorical rather than literal sense. The *real* question is, does it make you infertile over time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Gaygirlie (1657131)

        I have yet to meet a woman that finds big balls a turn on

        Now that I think about it neither have I met anyone like that. Large, dangly balls tend to be quite nasty, in fact; it's usually the dangly thing ABOVE the balls that matters, not the balls themselves. I've never understood why men believe large balls are somehow attractive.

        • Re:Nice tagline... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:06AM (#41044131)

          Are you qualified to comment, with your username?

          • I do still have female friends and relatives, mate :)

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Sorry, that still doesn't make you qualified. There's a large discrepancy between how your "friends and relatives" will tell you how they feel and how they actually DO feel. When a story related to breasts or vaginas comes up, feel free to comment.

        • by Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:47AM (#41044287)

          it's usually the dangly thing ABOVE the balls that matters

          This? [daily-newswire.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Whiteox (919863)

          Large sacks are good as they allow the balls to swing and pound for the extra thrill.

      • by trout007 (975317) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @08:17AM (#41044649)

        By making your balls smaller it will make other things in that area appear larger.

      • Also consider the evolutionary perspective. You need big testicles when you need to generate a lot of semen; and you need that when it's a free for all (i.e. all males couple with all females), and you want more sperm just to improve your chances to impregnate a female who's been fucked by a dozen other guys - by beating them on the sperm count. That why chimps have huge testicles, for example, bigger than any other great ape - they are not monogamous like us, nor do they have harems like gorillas and orang

    • Re:Nice tagline... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2012 @07:07AM (#41044335)

      The page 5 of the original article PDF [cell.com] has a size comparison of disected specimens. The treated mice testes weight is roughly halved but the size is 2^(1/3) ~ >0.70 of the untreated ones.

      There is a meassurement device called Prader orchidometer [rsna.org] that works by comparison with standarized orbs. It's very difficult to get an accurate size/volume in vivo without using ultrasounds and if even the orchidometer method is not precise much less expect that anybody could notice a significant difference just looking at them.

      Certainly after some time not even yourself will notice at all. Definitely noticeable if meassured or compared side by side, but most probably irrelevant for a partner. The major issue may be the own psychological selfesteem burden that some insecure people could have of knowing that their testes shrank a bit, but far worse and by large would be that you got instead a vasectomy and later couldn't reverse it.

      Always could do nothing and let all the responsability to your girlfriend/wife behaving like a macho(TM) or just ask for her opinion about it and decide together since also are "her nuts".

    • by peragrin (659227)

      So do steroids but some guys take those all the time.

    • I'm sure it works better than trying to block the DDRT protein.

    • Besides that it is also an issue that males have less to lose if. They accidently get some one pregnant. There is a lot less incentive for males to take contraceptives then woman. Now condoms on the other hand help prevent him from getting diseases, so there will be a higher usage rate. For the woman she has most to lose if she gets pregnant.

      So until our culture changes where after the birth the male is far more responsible for the child, I don't see a huge popularity in male contraceptives.

      • Re:Nice tagline... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Monday August 20, 2012 @12:58AM (#41051169)
        Men are legally financially responsible for any child they generate if the woman chooses to press the point. In many states, women can dump their kids off at any number of places and be 100% clear of any responsibility for them. Women can choose to get an abortion and avoid further responsibility as well. Men do not have that option.

        You must have missed the last 3 decades. Our culture has already changed.
  • As if.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As if there is a single man in the world would would take a contraceptive that shrank their testes....

    I don't think this is close at all, more like a story of a drug with horrific side effects that thankfully they caught before human trials.

    • by blackicye (760472)

      As if there is a single man in the world would would take a contraceptive that shrank their testes....

      I don't think this is close at all, more like a story of a drug with horrific side effects that thankfully they caught before human trials.

      Compared to the horrific side effects of not using any birth control at all, I think a little testicular shrinkage is acceptable.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      As if there is a single man in the world would would take a contraceptive that shrank their testes....

      Well, if the research would find something that will increase the piece above the testes, I bet many would take it without thinking.

  • by Zubinix (572981) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @05:34AM (#41043995)

    Its not like most slashdotters are getting any.

  • Wishful thinking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cazekiel (1417893) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @05:50AM (#41044063)

    I get this strange, uncanny feeling that it won't catch on. From my own experience and opinion, men get squicked-out when it comes to changing one of their body functions. Women are "meh, okay," when it comes to oral contraceptives (in SOME cases--me, it didn't work out at all) simply because they have to put up with major, stupid-ridiculous body issues over their entire lives (menstrual cycles, D-cups, pregnancy, menopause--just to name a few) while a man's changes are more subtle, quicker, and easily controllable (facial hair, voice changes, etc.). It'd be nice to, as Samwise says, 'Share the load,' (har har) but it'd take some time and re-thinking of roles.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      I get this strange, uncanny feeling that it won't catch on. From my own experience and opinion, men get squicked-out when it comes to changing one of their body functions. Women are "meh, okay," when it comes to oral contraceptives (in SOME cases--me, it didn't work out at all) simply because they have to put up with major, stupid-ridiculous body issues over their entire lives (menstrual cycles, D-cups, pregnancy, menopause--just to name a few) while a man's changes are more subtle, quicker, and easily controllable (facial hair, voice changes, etc.). It'd be nice to, as Samwise says, 'Share the load,' (har har) but it'd take some time and re-thinking of roles.

      Hell yes. Having a vasectomy was a bit of a mental hurdle to get over, although the difference there is it's permanent. Having had the vasectomy I'd still consider taking this if the smaller testes thing was a guarantee (and they didn't keep shrinking below the desired size), and they didn't result in any changes to sex drive.

      • by Cazekiel (1417893)

        I thought they could do a reversal for those who changed their minds? Either way, I think more and more men are evolving past their insecurities with body issues and it MAY catch on. Hoping so, anyway. Having more and more options on the table involving both sexes in preventing pregnancy, especially if either the man or woman can't DO oral contraceptives (as it was for me, previously stated) is a must, imho.

        • I thought they could do a reversal for those who changed their minds?

          Tthey can attempt to reverse the procedure but it's around 80% successful for getting viable sperm in the ejaculate and about 75% percent successful for get a pregancy after reversal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, the problem is that it will reduce the need for condoms. Getting some deadly STD is a lot more life changing then an unplanned pregnancy. Especially in today's society when single parents are quite common.

      • by Cazekiel (1417893)

        Perhaps, but for a married couple who don't want any more kids, or ANY kids altogether, it can be beneficial to their love lives if one or both uses oral contraceptives. And really, MOST women (though not all, unfortunately) understand that birth control pills don't prevent STDs, but we take it anyway AND condom use is encouraged.

    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      I was thinking the same thing. There's no way that the side effect they list at the end of the article isn't going to trigger all kinds of castration anxiety, even if it's perfectly safe and reversible.
      • by Alomex (148003)

        You forget that once you've been married for a few years you get used to feeling emasculated 24x7, which is why so many married men consent to readily consent to getting a minivans and a vasectomy..

        I can totally see a married man taking those pills.

    • I really just don't get why. My wife had a contraceptive implant. One needle in the arm, bam, protected for 3 years. Because it introduces the drug into the bloodstream in a slow continuous way, rather than in one big hit each day with the tablets, side-effects are generally much milder. When we wanted to have kids, we took it out - just one needle. When we want to permanently not have any more kids, I'll have a vasectomy.

      I mean, I understand some women have reactions to the pill, even in the implant-form.

  • .... of hammers or knives anywhere. (that hurt to write, yes)
  • by Havenwar (867124) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:09AM (#41044147)

    I researched the availability of male birth control after the first time I ended up in the bedroom with a woman who was all "Oh you don't want kids, that's okay, I'm on the pill. No need to use a condom. NO. NO CONDOM! OKAY THEN, BUT USE THIS CONDOM, NOT YOURS! YOURS IS TOO UNBROKEN!"

    Sounds silly, right? Apparently it's not that rare, and the older I get (or rather the older the girls I date get), the more common it gets.

    So, I had to choose between exclusively dating girls half my age, find a way to put birth control under MY control since I don't want to procreate, or well, just live with it. A lot of guys choose the latter, which I suppose is why a lot of guys become fathers once their luck runs out. I'm not that kind of stupid.

    So I just went with the other two options. Girls half my age are usually quite happy when they hear I've had a vasectomy, while a lot of older girls suddenly remember they need to wash their hair this saturday. Sunday. Every day. Every possible day I could ever meet them on, ever. They will have the cleanest hair ever, but they're not risking having sex with an infertile guy. Even though they supposedly are okay with that I don't want kids.

    And women are surprised that we're confused by their behaviours...

    Anyway I probably would have gone with the vasectomy anyway, but it would have been awesome to have a pill for when I was too young to legally do so. (25 here in Sweden.) So I really do hope that this thing takes off... This time. In difference of all the other ones, that have been in development for decades, and even undergoing human trials.

    On the flip side that whole shrinking testes thing is a bit of a marketing problem if it persists in guys. Not for me per se, but generally guys seem to put a lot of stock in their nuts. I mean it's even made the language: "You've got balls." Having smaller balls makes you less of a man. No logic about that either... So most guys wouldn't buy this pill, even if it did work.

    And men are surprised that women are confused by their behaviours...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Gotta wonder how much of an asshole you are in person so that you only find girls like that who would endure staying in a room with you. Oh wait, you are just a misogynist idiot and your stories are mostly anally extracted...
      • by Havenwar (867124)

        Only find that type? I think you are overlooking the obvious here. When I find one that isn't, I keep her. Hence why I've spent about three quarters of my adult life in long term (2+ years) relationships. When I find a woman who genuinly didn't want to have kids, and who matched me well in most other ways, I even married her. Five years later, and we got divorced... She wanted more big city life, I prefer the countryside. These things happen. Now I'm dating again, and oh look... Girls my age (30+) either ha

        • Not my experience, to be honest. I am in the mid thirties myself. You may have been unlucky. I uphold the accusation of assholery on your opinion regarding Tacitus, though ;)
          • by Havenwar (867124)

            Well, of course our experience would differ - we are very different people clearly, with very different search criteria. Let's say you look for girls of type U. Since girls of type T and V are similar, you'll dismiss all other girls, but you'll end up having to look closer at girls in the group TUV in order to find the ones that match best - the Us. Meanwhile I look for girls of type maybe I'm looking for type V, but since type U and W have similar characteristics, I dismiss all other girls and end up looki

            • by causality (777677) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @08:37AM (#41044771)

              Well, of course our experience would differ - we are very different people clearly, with very different search criteria. Let's say you look for girls of type U. Since girls of type T and V are similar, you'll dismiss all other girls, but you'll end up having to look closer at girls in the group TUV in order to find the ones that match best - the Us. Meanwhile I look for girls of type maybe I'm looking for type V, but since type U and W have similar characteristics, I dismiss all other girls and end up looking closer at girls in the group UVW. And thus there are girls I look at that you never meet, and girls you look at that I never meet. Because we dismiss them offhand due to other more immediate reasons.

              Of course more likely you look for girls in the group ABC and I look in the group XYZ, but that's largely another story. Even in my subset these women are not the majority, but since they WILL lie and deceive to get their goals, they are over-represented in the girls that get past the first checks and balances.

              So getting a vasectomy for me was a simple choice and an easy solution. I don't want to procreate, and telling girls that up front had no result. But telling them up front that I've had a vasectomy and CAN NOT procreate, well that is a new check that weeds out any of these crazies quickly, efficiently, and decisively.

              And you can call me an ass-hole all you want, I still say Tacitus is overrated. :P

              It's a typical double-standard like several we have regarding women. It's because we don't really want to think of them as equals, we want to think of them as more than equal to prove what a knight in shining armor we are.

              A woman who plans for her future, protects herself from risks she does not want to take, and won't let a man take advantage of her is a strong woman.

              A man who plans for his future, protects himself from risks he does not want to take, and won't let a woman take advantage of him .. well that guy's an asshole.

              That's the double standard. I say let them call you an asshole. No man should be tricked into being a father. It should be an equal, bilateral decision.

  • A good way for women then to check if men are using the pill or just don't care!

  • Re: (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheInsani7y (2711037) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:23AM (#41044203)
    Meh. Smaller potatoes make the steak look bigger.
  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:33AM (#41044237) Homepage Journal

    Makes the whole thing a bit redundant.

  • by diakka (2281) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:37AM (#41044251)

    It's estimated that 1/2 of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned. Really, every child should be wanted by both parents. Willing parents are the best parents. If this world only had children that were wanted, the quality of child rearing that each child gets is going to be far better. Population explosion could possibly come under control as well.

    • by markdavis (642305) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @08:05AM (#41044587)

      +1 on your post. It is just as important for men to have control over reproduction- modern society demands they are 50% liable for children (with which I do agree).

      I would only add that there should also be no financial rewards to women having children, making sure it is the CHILDREN that are wanted, not the money from the government (yes, this is a big problem with certain socioeconomic populations).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2012 @09:53AM (#41045163)

        modern society demands they are 50% liable for children

        FWIW, here in Ontario family law judges are bound to award child support by applying a chart called the Child Support Guidelines. It takes into account the number of children and the parent's individual income. Equality never enters the picture. If the parents have joint custody and one makes $10,000 / year while the other makes $60,000 and they have two children, the first parent owes a grand total of $0 / month while the second must pay over $900 / month (according to 2010 numbers).

        The only time equalization can possibly occur is in the case of joint custody and, say, their incomes just happen to be equal. They therefore need to issue a payment to the other every month for the exact same amount, and so the two payments just happen to cancel each other out.

        While double income families are becoming more and more common, there is a LOT of incentive for one partner to become a stay-at-home-parent if they have no moral or ethical qualms about turning their partner into a potential slave. Rather than look at it as: the parent who worked made their own sacrifice by working harder (in some cases two or more jobs) in order to give the stay-at-home parent the opportunity to be with their children all day, "society" tends to take the view that having kids is a major sacrifice (how nice for the kids, huh?) and if someone stays home to "raise your kids" then you owe them (the parent, not the children) individual financial (spousal) support ON TOP OF child support.

        Two friends of mine lived together for some years as common-law spouses, never legally married, but they had children when they broke up. The female sought legal counsel and later explained to me that her lawyer was baffled that she would actually want to seek work and earn her keep. The lawyer took it as her job to achieve a state where my friend would not have to work thanks to the spousal support (in addition to child support) that she could expect to collect from her ex on top of various government programs.

        We hear a lot about misogyny, but I'm starting to witness more and more misandry over the years. The misogyny card almost seems like an excuse or a red herring these days. Women may have been treated unfairly in marriage and that needed to be remedied, but I don't see any equality to be found anywhere. Instead I see giving women more and more advantages by taking them away from men.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      unplanned does not mean unwanted but you are in big part right.

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:47AM (#41044281)

    it's called try being married for twelve years.

  • by guises (2423402) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:54AM (#41044303)
    Have a look at RISUG:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reversible_inhibition_of_sperm_under_guidance [wikipedia.org]

    Development is much further along than this drug, RISUG could be available within the next five-ten years. It's available right now if you're in India and willing to be a guinea pig. No testicle shrinkage, though the Wikipedia article say there might be other drawbacks. The article says that there's no evidence for adverse effects though... which makes me wonder why it brings that up at all.
  • Is is really a good thing to give people more options to only block pregnancy instead of pregnancy and STDs?
    Blocking pregnancy is really not good enough for any contraceptive. When/if this came out I predict a significant increase in STDs.

    Also we men really do not have the best track record for honesty related to sex. And "I am on the pill" is a statement that cannot be verified.

  • Wonderful idea.
    Won't catch on

    Too many men identify themselves as men through their ability to father children.
  • Because, as the news keeps reminding us, it's a scary world out there. Drug-Resistent Gonorrha [wired.com] If you need me, I'll be in my parents' basement.

  • I hope they hang lower when they shrink due to less static acceleration of the ball bag.

  • Right now one big social problem is unwanted kids, public welfare, and family courts. The problem is there are lots if incentives for poor single women to get pregnant. They get better preferential treatment for things like housing, WIC, college, ect. If there was a male pill or reversible chemical vasecomy the change in social dynamics would change as severely as when the pill for women came out.

  • by Sqreater (895148) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @09:59AM (#41045219)

    Women, who now have essentially the ability to get pregnant when they want to, will have to ask a man for permission to become pregnant, maybe even beg for permission to be a mother. Do they actually understand the shift in reproductive power that unthinking feminists have been pushing for for so long? Do they realize they lose control of their own pregancies? No more Tom Brady and Giselle kinda thing. No more babies by philandering pretty-boy candidates. No more rock star accidents. No more (oops) having that second child because you want one and hubby maybe isn't so keen. And can a silly woman who depends on a man to take his pill trust him to do so? No. Think of pregnancy as revenge etc., an act of aggression. Male contraception empowers men in a way that women may not find so "fair." Nobody really knew the society-wide changes female contraception would bring starting in the 1960s. Perhaps we are not really projecting the changes easy male contraception in pill form will bring in the future as its benefits to men become widely perceived by them.

  • by drhank1980 (1225872) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @04:43PM (#41048249)
    I think it might make the world a better place.

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