Male pill

Despite Carl Djerassi’s prediction (some years ago) that we would never see a “male pill”, it looks like just such a contraceptive treat is coming at last.

The new drug, Adjudin, is currently in early clinical trials and is a long way from human use. However, the very fact that drug companies are taking a male oral contraceptive seriously suggests a sea change iin attitudes. It’s not ten years ago that I heard Djerassi speak on this very subject and point out how the likelihood of a chemical contraceptive for men would never arrive.

Apparently, Adjudin triggers re-absorption of immature sperm cells so that they never reach the seminal point of no return infamously faced by Woody Allen in his notorious tale of sex. Chuen-yan Cheng of the Population Council’s Center for Biomedical Research in New York has tested the drug on lab rats and found there to be no obvious side effects other than that the males became infertile. Imporantly, the process is entirely temporary and just 20 weeks off the pill gets the sperm fighting fit once more.

Already, the concept of such a contraceptive has those opposed to any form of contraception chomping at the bit and arguing as to whether such a form of contraceptive contravenes religious doctrine or not. When one considers every sperm as sacred, biblically speaking, then are these immature fledgling sperm being “wasted” or not?

Of course, there are much more serious issues to consider, such as sexual health.

Over on Digg, a comment from “mizzack” in response to the CBS News article on this drug announcement goes like this:

Guy: “Hey, wanna go back to my place?”
Girl: “Sure”
[back at the house]
Girl: “Do you have condoms?”
Guy: “Oh, no, don’t need ’em. I’m on the pill”
Girl: “Riggggggght. Do you have condoms?”

Perhaps even more important than putative problems couples may face in the distant future should this male pill ever reach market is the fact that Cheng’s team previously reported that animal tests had shown Adjudin, to be toxic when given orally, causing liver problems and muscle wasting. Not exactly two happy things to happen to a guy. In the current trial, Adjudin has been conjugated with follicle-stimulating hormone to purportedly preclude such toxicity. It worked but only when the conjugate was administered intravenously.

So, the choice would be muscle wasting, which may or may not reduce your chance of a date, liver damage or regular injections into the belly to keep babies at bay, the need for a hormone adjuvant, and no intrinsic protection from HIV, chlamydia, syphyllis, gonnorhea, and any of several other STDs.

So, perhaps Djerassi was right after all and we may never see a marketable male pill. Caps off to the father of the pill.