Thursday, 16 August 2012

Birth control pill, who gets to take the pill this time?

Gregory Pincus was an American physician, biologist, and researcher during the 20th century. Early in his career he began studying hormonal biology and steroidal hormones, but his first breakthrough came in 1934 when was able to produce in vitro fertilization in rabbits. In 1953, Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick confronted Pincus with the idea of creating an oral contraceptive.

He sought out Searle, a pharmaceutical company, about funding for their plan. Searle's initial reaction was 'no' because it jeopardized his company due to the austere birth control laws. Despite the fact that Searle had no intention of creating an oral contraceptive, Frank Colton, a chemist at the company, accidentally developed a type of one. Pincus was allowed to have samples of the drug for his research and in 1957
The Pill was released as a treatment for gynecological disorders.

Finally, in 1960, it became FDA approved and by 1963, 1.2 million women were using it. Although Searle was originally reluctant to fund research for an oral contraceptive, he soon reaped the rewards of the newly invented Pill, and monopolized the industry for a short time. Although The Pill gave women reproductive control, they still didn't have complete control over their bodies.
The first doses of The Pill were 10 milligrams. The high dosage led to numerous reactions, such as nausea, blurred vision, bloating ,weight gain, depression, blood clots, and strokes. Women's complaints of these symptoms to doctors were quickly dismissed. Doctors didn't share much with patients at this time because they felt the patients were not capable of understanding. Our Bodies Ourselves challenged this notion and "wanted to do something about those doctors who were condescending, paternalistic, judgmental, and non-informative". Finally, in the 1980s the high dosage of The Pill was lowered, and today, women can receive a prescription of The Pill that has as little as one milligram of progesterone.

Since testosterone provides that signal that sperm production is complete, giving a man extra testosterone can serve the same purpose. But if there are always high doses of testosterone in the male bloodstream, they continually tell the brain that the testes are producing enough sperm, which turns off the release of GnRH indefinitely. Male birth control researchers discovered that this testosterone-pumping, GnRH-thwarting approach also comes with a host of physical side effects, including acne, weight gain, prostate-gland growth and abnormal liver function.

To solve the testosterone problem, researchers in the mid-2000s introduced progestogen, another synthetic sex hormone also found in female birth control, into the mix. The resulting male birth control method combined testosterone implants to inhibit sperm production and regular progestogen injections to counteract the unwanted side effects in 80 to 90 percent of male trial participants These days, male birth control researchers have largely given up on finding a hormonal sperm blocker in favor of non-hormonal options.
Recently A hormone-free drug tested in male mice might someday prove viable for men who want their own birth-control pill, according to new research.

The compound stifles sperm production but not sexual activity, fertility returns once treatment stops and males can go on to father healthy offspring, the researchers say. Dr James Bradner, of Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard studied a molecule JQ1, which was administered by injection. The JQ1 works by targeting a protein called BRDT that functions in the test and is vital for fertility. Unlike previous drugs, JQI can physically reach the cells that make sperm.
Sperm cell production drops in number and surviving sperm don't work as well. Researchers injected the rodents over an 18-month period and found they were mating as much as ever, but were completely infertile at higher does of JQ1. After treatment ended, they were again able to sire apparently healthy offspring. "Mice can only report a few obvious symptoms," Bradner said, "but with that caveat we do not observe any developmental or behavioral effects on offspring." 
The results have implications for men as well as mice. "Humans do indeed have the BRDT gene, and human genetics suggests a similar role for BRDT in sperm production," Bradner said. "We therefore tested activity against the human BRDT protein and found that JQ1 is a highly potent inhibitor of human BRDT." The study is published in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Cell.

Diana Blithe, program director for contraceptive development at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, called the new findings "exciting." "I'm pleased anytime I see something that is completely effective and completely reversible," Blithe said. Males need more contraceptive options, she said. "A lot of women are unable to take birth-control pills or use effective methods that are on the market, and if they are trying to avoid pregnancy, they need help from their partner," Blithe said. "There are an awful lot of men who feel that it's very important for them. From their point of view, they want to share in the responsibility of whether or not they're causing pregnancies to occur."

The hormonal methods work by a two-step process,
The first is, you use progestin, which inhibits the hormones that cause testosterone to be produced in the testes. If you inhibit the whole cycle and reduce the testosterone in the testes to very low levels, you stop sperm production.But this also eliminates "the ability to have erections and ejaculations and protect muscle. mass.The second step is giving men a replacement dose of testosterone, enough to reverse the side effects without kicking in new sperm production.

By being able to inhibit sperm production without impacting any levels of testosterone, you're not having any adverse effects on the animal's ability to have sexual function. Therefore, there would be no need for a replacement dose of a male hormone. The researchers note that studies in animals often fail to provide similar results in humans, and this new form of birth control won't be ready for humans in the near future.
There are several  methods which include ultrasound, direct injection to the testicles and hormone treatments all have complications. Once the non hormonal birth control pill gets perfected, it will shift the paradigm of birth control to both sexes. Allowing the male to control and be responsible for any sexual activity, the first contraception pill started a new era of free love. This male contraceptive pill might bring a new era for responsible population control.

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