It seems that men don't feel empowered anymore when it comes to their sperm—faced with the Sophie's Choice of wearing condoms or getting a vasectomy (or not having sex, or, God forbid, having an adult conversation with a partner about other ways of preventing conception), men across the nation are demanding more control over their reproductive systems. Science has heard their cries, and responded with a new birth control pill, currently being tested in Indonesia, that makes sperm incapable of entering an egg.
PBS profiled the new drug in a piece last night (which you can watch here)—the plant from which the drug has been derived, gandarusa, doesn't alter male hormones, but rather changes the chemistry on the tip of each individual spermatozoa, making them unable to penetrate the egg...and we can't wait to use that pickup line. Best of all, besides providing all sorts of sexy conversation starters, the pill's effect is not permanent—on average, men were fertile again two months after they took the pill.
While scientists are optimistic that gandarusa will be available in Indonesian stores as early as next year, they don't know when it might come to the U.S., because the strict regulations of the FDA would require years of more testing. Similarly, there is another form of male contraception being worked on here in the U.S.: reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance, or RISUG. A synthetic substance is injected in the vas deferens, which stops most sperm from getting out: "It mostly blocks the tube, but also kills any sperm that get past. It's almost like a filter," said Elaine Lissner, director of the nonprofit Male Contraception Information Project. It has also proven to be reversible in animal trials thus far, a very important selling point for men.
Of course, it's important to keep in mind that none of these male contraceptives take into account, or address, STDs or STIs. And there is one form of male contraceptive which science seems to have completely overlooked: the natural "charm" of most men!