Male contraception coming soon?-A A +A
To Your Health
Saturday, January 19, 2013
IN THE flurry of debates - for and against - the much ballyhooed RH bill, the news about the possibility of male contraception did not get even a fraction of news coverage. Indeed, dear readers and friends, the burden of taking oral contraceptive pills will no longer be for women alone as a new contraceptive pill designed to induce temporary infertility in men could soon be on its way to being developed.
With the kind indulgence of our readers, allow the author to give a brief backgrounder of the health issue. The two testicles of men consist of three different tissues; the semeniferous tubules- so-called reproductive part because this is where spermatogenesis or formation of mature adult sperm cells occur, the interstitial cells of Leydig- so-called endocrine portion because the cells therein secrete male hormone testosterone and the Sertoli cells, which are support cells. For most boys, 11 years is when spermatogenesis starts producing millions of sperm cells which, as long as the man remains healthy, should be able to produce health viable sperm cells capable of siring a child, until old age. This is in sharp contrast to females, whose reproductive capacities are limited in terms of time frame- that is from menarche' or appearance of first mens, usually 9 years old, to menopause - usually 52 years , when the woman stops ovulating or producing adult mature eggs, , hence can no longer be fertile or can no longer get pregnant.
Our colleague JM Punzalan wrote that the new contraceptive pill will work by blocking the gene called Katnall which is an important essential component towards the last part of sperm maturation. Researchers at the center for reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh recently identified this gene as they were conducting investigations into male infertility with mice.
The researchers said that the pill is non hormonal therefore they expect it to have very few side effects because it would not affect the naturally-produced hormones. The key in developing a non hormonal contraceptive pill for men is that the molecular target needs to be very specific for either sperm or other cells in the testicle which are involved in sperm production, said Dr. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield. Researchers are also looking at this new finding to shed light on why some men remains sub-fertile, despite normal sperm count and healthy sperms, as to why the sperm does not work properly
A few years back, my doctor friends in Singapore dipped themselves into bathtubs filled with as-hot-as-one-can-tolerate water, using the hot temperature to temporarily "immobilize" their sperm cells before making love with their wives in obedience to the then-government policy of having a two-children family. Well, obviously times have changed. Am sure, proponents of the RH bill as well as the descendants of Gabriela Silang as well as their rabid feminists are eagerly awaiting for that male contraceptive pill be made available to the public.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 19, 2013.