Sperm control

Making headway in the exciting field of male contraception.

Published October 30, 2006 10:00PM (EST)

Here's some great news in an area we can't hear enough about: new and innovative approaches to birth control. And today's news is for the boys.

A new drug that's been tested on rats effectively blocks sperm production, making male rats temporarily infertile, according to research published in the journal Nature Medicine. According to the scientists who performed the study, as soon as the drug treatment ceases, males become fertile again. And since the drug can block sperm production in low doses, side effects appear to be insignificant.

As exciting as this news is, the drug hasn't been tested on humans yet. So we're talking about a male pill that is still years away and essentially a fantasy. But just a few weeks ago Page Rockwell wrote about a different set of scientific trials in which silicone plugs were being used to temporarily block the vas deferens, the hitch being that the resulting sperm backup might damage long-term fertility.

So it's clear that doctors are genuinely interested in creating an effective way for men to take responsibility for contraception. Cheers! Our daughters look forward to reaping the rewards of exactly this kind of research.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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