A male contraceptive pill could be a step closer - but would you take it?

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
Do women trust men to take a pill? [Photo: Getty]
Do women trust men to take a pill? [Photo: Getty]

The drive to find a male contraceptive pill may have taken a step forward.

That’s because a research team in Scotland have begun the search for a drug which will stop sperm in its tracks.

The team at the University of Dundee have begun work to develop a male contraceptive pill thanks to a grant of about $900,000 (£716,670) from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

If successful, it could help to prevent millions of unwanted pregnancies across the globe.

"Sperm move very quickly in humans," Prof Christopher Barratt, head of the Reproductive Medicine Group at the city's university told BBC.

"It's the speed of Usain Bolt if you want to get an analogy. And what we're trying to do is get chemicals to stop that type of movement.

“So stop them in the starting blocks, rather than letting them get to the 100m line."

The team hopes to find a drug to mimic male infertility.

Previous attempts to create a male pill have hit stumbling blocks due to unwanted side effects, but the team are hoping to identify a suitable compound within five years.

After that, men could start testing the pill.

READ MORE: First trial of a male contraceptive gel is about to start

Earlier this year scientists revealed an experimental male contraceptive was showing promise.

In what was described as a “major step forward”, the taken once-a-day pill was successfully tested on 83 men for a month by researchers at the University of Washington.

Like most female contraceptive pills, the pill, called dimethandrolone undecanoate, or DMAU, contains a combination of hormones – an androgen such as testosterone, and a progestin.

The new form of contraception works by lowering levels of testosterone and two hormones required for sperm production.

As a result men taking it don’t produce enough sperm to get their partners pregnant.

What’s more, side effects that have persisted in previous attempts to create a male pill, such as liver damage or low sex drive, were also generally absent after the month-long trial.

There are currently multiple types of contraception in the UK - but the majority are for women to use [Photo: Getty]
There are currently multiple types of contraception in the UK - but the majority are for women to use [Photo: Getty]

Ladies: would you trust your partner with your contraception?

The male pill comes almost 70 years after the introduction of the contraceptive pill for women (although the pill has only been available on the NHS since 1961).

Other than condoms, which were first invented way back in 1855, there has never been a temporary male contraceptive, so if the male pill does continue to perform well in trials it could be a huge breakthrough in contraception.

Whether or not men would take it or women would trust them to remains to be seen.

While many women will no doubt be thrilled at the thought of being freed from the confines of acne, mood swings and lack of libido that the hormonal contraceptives they take can entail, others aren’t so sure if they would trust their man to take it.

A Twitter straw poll carried out by Refinery29 last year asking straight women in relationships with men whether or not they'd trust their current or future partner with their fertility revealed that 59% no, 38% yes and 3% undecided.

READ MORE: Doctors believe rubbing an explosive gel onto your penis could be the new viagra

But how do men actually feel about taking it?

Actually, quite positive.

A YouGov poll released in September last year revealed that one in three (33%) sexually active men would consider taking a male version of the pill; the same percentage of women who currently use hormonal contraception.

But that leaves, a quarter (27%) who say they would “definitely not” be willing to take it, with another quarter (23%) saying they would “probably” not.

Interestingly, this seems to represent an increased sense of fairness about the sharing of responsibility for contraception with 8 in 10 Britons believing men and women should share it.

And whether or not the male pill becomes a reality soon, the shift in the burden of responsibility for contraception to a more equal footing has to be a good thing.

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