Hurray: Male contraceptive pill debuts

contraceptiveA group of researchers from the American Chemical Society (ACS) have found that a particular African plant extract could be the key to producing male contraceptive pill. According to a report published in the ‘ACS’ Journal of Medicinal Chemistry,’ a study on rats shows contraceptive benefits of ouabain, a compound traditionally used by African hunters as poison on their arrows. Ouabain is produced naturally in the body at a low level which scientists believe can help maintain blood pressure levels and it is occasionally prescribed to treat patients who have suffered from a heart attack.

According to the report, ouabain disturbs the movement of sodium and calcium ions and binds to a protein that is critical in male fertility. Although, a lot of female contraceptive methods for family planning purposes abound globally, making it very convenient for women of reproductive age to choose from, it is not like that in the male.

However, if the new ouabain-based male contraceptive is finally tested successfully on humans, it will expand access to male contraception. Presently in Nigeria, fertility is very high, with an average family P having up to five and six children whereas the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) of Nigerians is currently put at about 15 per cent.

That is to say that 15 per cent of women of reproductive age only use contraceptives. Plans of scientists to produce this male contraception will be a breakthrough for the world community and for Nigerians, currently targeting to increase their CPR to 36 per cent in 2018. Previous research has shown that ouabain can reduce fertility in men, but experts have warned that if taken alone at a high dosage it could cause heart damage and therefore could not be a viable contraceptive on its own. This prompted the team of scientists to design ouabain analogs that posed less of a threat to the heart and focused only on binding to a particular protein found in sperm.

They subsequently managed to develop a successful and safe contraceptive method using the plant-extract through a series of tests conducted on rats. However, a recent study published in the ‘Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism’ found that a contraceptive injection could be 96 per cent effective in curbing male fertility, though side effects were common

10 replies on “Hurray: Male contraceptive pill debuts”

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