Dr. Santi in “Fast-Acting Nonhormonal Male Birth Control Prevents Pregnancy in Mice”

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Hormonal birth control methods are highly effective, but for many people who take them, they have undesirable side effects. But these could someday be avoided with the advent of fast-acting nonhormonal contraceptives. In a study published February 14 in Nature Communications, a group of Weill Cornell Medicine pharmacologists report a male contraceptive that prevented 100 percent of pregnancies in mice allowed to mate just 30 minutes after the drug was administered. And rather than altering hormone levels throughout the body, the compound works by paralyzing sperm, essentially making them dead in the water upon entry into the female reproductive tract.

“It is really encouraging that for the first time, there is a drug that can inhibit sperm function without affecting the production,” says Celia Santi, a sperm physiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis—“and that can be used short-term, on-demand without any noticeable side effects.”