When it comes to taking charge of one’s reproductive fate, women have had reliable birth control methods for decades now. For men the story is completely different. Though not for lack of trying, the medical establishment has failed to produce a consistently reliable method of contraception that is both non-permanent and healthy for men to take. But research coming out of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center could change that via a simple gel applied directly to the skin.
Keeping wildlife baby-free is a hazardous business
By Katharine Gammon
Posted 09.22.2011 at 11:13 am 16 Comments
In 1989, researchers at the University of California at Davis invented PZP, the first birth-control vaccine for animals other than humans. When injected, PZP causes a female’s immune system to block sperm from her eggs, offering a humane method of keeping populations in check. The compound worked in elephants, donkeys and deer, but it had a troubling side effect: the animals stayed in heat longer than normal. In one trial, deer were fertile for six months instead of one.
For women using birth control, that daily pill may soon be replaced by a simple addition to the regular moisturization routine. A new topical contraceptive gel that works in the same way as the pill has shown similar effectiveness when applied to the shoulders, arms, legs or abdomen daily -- and works without the side effects of sickness, weight gain, or a muted sense of sexual desire.
The male birth control pill has lingered for years tantalizingly just out of reach, in the realm where rumor meets science. Recently developed hormonal and mechanical contraceptives never found an audience, serving only to highlight the absence of a male pill. Now, an examination of how smoking pot lowers fertility may make the male pill more than a persistent rumor.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.