Scientists Still Plugging Away at Contraception for Dudes; Meanwhile, 1 in 5 Men Have "Abnormal Sperm Counts"

How do we not want to have a baby? Let us count the ways. If you're a woman, you've got that female condom horror, the sponge, a host of different hormone therapies from pills to injectables, implantables, diaphragms, even emergency contraception, not to mention swearing off men altogether ... in toto, a veritable plethora of ways to prevent the pitter-patter of tiny feet.

But if you're a guy, well ... you've got condoms. Trusting your significant other/lady you sex to take care of things on her own. Surgery. Or not having sex.

Is it any wonder that the menfolk feel left out?

Fortunately, scientists have been working round the clock to counter this injustice in our social-sexual construct.

As reported by our friends at L.A. Weekly, the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center has announced it's going to start testing a male contraceptive on patients. It's a hormonal gel that aims to "cut male sperm count levels to the point at which conception is not possible."

According to researcher Dr. Christina Wang, "This trial is a study of a testosterone gel, which was developed with testing at LA BioMed, to be used with a progestin gel called Nestorone to suppress sperm production. Upon stopping the application of the gel, the sperm production will return to the normal range."

Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support research to make ultrasound an inexpensive, long-term, reversible contraceptive for men.

"We think this could provide men with up to six months of reliable, low-cost, non-hormonal contraception from a single round of treatment," said James Tsuruta, PhD.

Alternatively, guys could take a cue from these admirably chaste ladies, go on a "celibacy cleanse," and put their energy into making wedding dresses or getting a record deal. Except that would be obnoxious.   Of course, all of our scientist's efforts may be for naught, as yesterday we learned that one in five men between the ages of 18 and 25 produce "abnormal sperm counts" and this is so dire indeed that scientists are warning we may be facing a global health crisis. What, no more overpopulation?

Last week, one science writer even suggested, in starkly terrifying terms, that if scientists from Mars were to study the male reproductive system, they would possibly conclude that man was destined for rapid extinction.

Infertility is not just a female problem, say the scientists. Male fertility is an issue in about 40 percent of couples who are having difficulty conceiving. But, actually, it is just a female problem after all, because you can blame your fertility problems, guys, on your mom.

Factors such as women eating a lot of beef during pregnancy - which means they have consumed a diet rich in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are potentially damaging chemicals -- to the issue of obesity during pregnancy and a woman's exposure to smoke, pesticides, traffic fumes, plastics and even soybeans are all thought to have a bearing on a male fetus's future fertility.

Is anyone else reminded of the scene in Sex and the City where Charlotte bemoans practicing safe sex for so many years only to find at the age of whatever-she-is that she can't get pregnant? I'm thinking SATC 3: Aiden & Big: the Back-Up Plan. Set in Abu Dhabi, of course. Just imagine the fashion!

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