Scientists from the UK have found the secret of making men temporarily infertile, which could be a breakthrough in finding male contraceptives.
The scientists have found a way to switch off sperm’s ability to swim. They have developed a tiny designer compounds which smuggle themselves into sperm and stop their tails from wiggling. This in turn eliminates any chance of fertilising an egg.
According to Daily Mail, male infertility is often the result of poorly moving sperm, called ‘low motility’.
The researchers partnered up with IVF experts who identified a protein responsible for putting the wiggle into sperm tails. Together, they made a compound called ‘a cell-penetrating peptide’, which gets inside sperm and brings them to a standstill.
Although peptides, short chains of amino acids that can influence how human cells work, occur naturally, biochemists can make synthetic versions.
Lead researcher Professor John Howl described how effective their sperm-stopping agent had been in lab tests.
‘This is a totally unique approach – nobody else has ever done this before,’ he said.
‘The results are startling – and almost instant. When you take healthy sperm and add our compound, within a few minutes the sperm basically cannot move.’
Family planning experts said a reversible male contraceptive could benefit millions of couples where the woman cannot take the Pill.
Prof Howl said it was ‘too early to say’ if the end result would be a pill, a nasal spray or a sub-skin implant, but these were all possibilities.
However, researchers believe the effects of the pill or spray would wear off within days, meaning he would be fertile again.
Researchers also highlighted studies which found that women had concerns about their partner forgetting to take the contraceptives.
Another researcher, Proffessor Guillebaud refuted the concerns, adding that previous studies have found only a small percentage of women with such concerns.
He also said that it is a widely-held myth that men would simply forget the pill.
“It would also help men who want to have control over their own fertility – for example, to ensure they do not get trapped into having a child by a woman who says she is on the Pill, but
Professor Geeta Nargund, who works at CREATE fertility clinics, said: "If this proves safe and effective, I’m sure women would welcome it. It’s about time men took responsibility for contraception."