Magazine article USA TODAY

Searching for Reversible Male Contraception

Magazine article USA TODAY

Searching for Reversible Male Contraception

Article excerpt

Combining vasectomy with existing technologies of cryogenic sperm preservation and artificial insemination could produce a reliable system for reversible male contraception, suggest Carl Djerassi, professor of chemistry, Stanford University, widely known as the father of the birth control pill, and Stanley P. Leibo, research professor at Canada's University of Guelph. Such a technique would be valuable because the absence of serious research and development in male contraception among the major pharmaceutical companies, combined with the fact that the process of developing, testing, and regulatory approval requires 15 to 20 years, means that the prospect for a "male pill" is dismal even after the year 2010, they maintain.

If young men could ensure their ability to father children by depositing their semen in a sperm bank, they would be more likely to consider a vasectomy as a method of birth control, Djerassi and Leibo point out. "If successful reversal could be `guaranteed,' young men who have never fathered children might become candidates for vasectomy, thus transforming it into a new method of reversible male contraception."

Attempts to make vasectomies mechanically reversible by inserting valves or removable plugs have proven unsuccessful so far. Nevertheless, recent techniques and data indicate that the previously considered, but rejected, option of collecting and preserving sperm prior to the operation make this combination of technologies the only new form of reliable male contraception that can be introduced within the next decade, they argue. …

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