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Medicine Biotech Science

Birth Control For Men Edges Closer 407

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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  • 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 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...

  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @06:33AM (#41044237) Homepage Journal

    Makes the whole thing a bit redundant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2012 @07:02AM (#41044321)

    You see, that's why male contraceptives are a big deal. Currently, the only way for a man to have sex and have any say in whether the woman gets pregnant is either irreversible with some significant probability or ineffective with some significant probability: You can get snipped or use a condom. That's it. Woman can use the pill, and since that's a relatively reliable contraceptive that also doesn't prevent the woman from getting pregnant later when she wants to, it's the most widely used method of birth control. It's however 100% in the control of the woman, who can therefore basically unilaterally decide to get pregnant. So yes, it does take two, but the realities are such that women can and do get pregnant to get a commitment out of men, even if it ends up being just financial commitment.

  • Wonderful idea.
    Won't catch on

    Too many men identify themselves as men through their ability to father children.
  • 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:Wishful thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tylernt ( 581794 ) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @12:16PM (#41046311)

    Try being a sixth grade girl with D-cups then get back to me.

    This isn't the first time I've heard reports of negative social feedback from early large breasts. I'm not disputing your experience, but I don't get it. I thought men were obsessed with the-larger-the-better breasts, hence the popularity of padded bras and implants. Is it the girls that tease the ones who develop large/early? You'd think the guys would all want to be your best friend (maybe that's exactly the unwanted attention you refer to).

    I can tell you, though, that not all early/large girls find it a liability. I remember one in my high school that used them to get guys to do her schoolwork for her.

  • Re:Wishful thinking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cazekiel ( 1417893 ) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @12:30PM (#41046429)

    I actually dislike women who do that. I find it disingenuous, and really, if you want to feel productive and empowered, do it your own effing self. Can't bitch later, "I'm a strong woman, don't treat me like a second-class citizen!" if you're pulling crap like that.

    ANY-way. I was an insecure, introverted thing growing up, so it didn't take teasing. You can relate it to a guy's experience, getting an unwanted erection, only it's ALWAYS there. You feel like you're getting stared at, and I hated that feeling. I usually wore baggy shirts and other unflattering items of wear, but I'll never forget when we had to dress up for a mock trial of 'Mr. Alcohol' for a science-health class. I grabbed the only good clothes I had, a sweater I never wore (my Nana had the most boring taste in clothes) and it ended up being WAY too tight than I'd wanted. Suddenly, the geeky girl boys never paid attention to gained a crowd of sudden admirers. I find it funny nowadays, but back then I knew why and hated it.

    You're right, not all girls feel that way. But when you're a sensitive, relatively unpopular girl who actually feared sex (for ex., I told my sixth grade boyfriend that I wasn't getting married, because my view was that marriage meant sexsexsex... funny, eh? Lol) you do NOT want guys staring at your boobs. I still feel that way sometimes, mainly because I'm the opposite of that girl you mentioned: I like being noticed for actual attributes, not my body. It ain't much to-do anymore, anyway. ;)

  • by makomk ( 752139 ) on Sunday August 19, 2012 @05:44PM (#41048683) Journal

    Well... um, if the man in this hypothetical situation was raped for that there sperm, then sure--he shouldn't pay a red cent.

    Under current US law, it doesn't make one iota of difference whether he was raped, or even if he was way under the age of consent and the adult woman in question was in a position of power over him - child support is for the benefit of the kids, and everyone knows it benefits kids to be brought up by a kiddy-rapist enough to justify making one of her victims pay for it.

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