Men who have long dreaded the use of rubber during their greatest sexual exploits now have something to get excited about.
A new study from journal PLOS ONE has outlined the discovery of a compound called EP055 which attaches itself to sperm proteins to significantly slow their mobility. The breakthrough comes from the compound’s ability to carry out the task without affecting the hormones, thus paving the way for a potential ‘male pill’ with zero side effects.
Professor Michael O’Rand who led the investigation says that “simply put, the compound turns-off the sperm’s ability to swim, significantly limiting fertilisation capabilities”.
“This makes EP055 an ideal candidate for non-hormonal male contraception.”
The current market for safe male contraception only extends to the use of readily available condoms or a surgical vasectomy. Beyond that there are hormonal drugs in clinical trial stages that are designed to target the production of sperm, but these can affect a man’s natural hormones much like a female pill can affect a woman’s hormones.
The only bad news? EP055 has only been tested on male monkeys so far.
During the trial phase, male subjects were given a high dose of EP055 intravenously. After 30 hours of exposure O’Rand and his researchers at the Oregon National Primate Research Centre found no indication of normal sperm motility. More importantly, no physical side effects were observed.
“At 18 days post-infusion, all macaques (monkeys) showed signs of complete recovery, suggesting that the EP055 compound is indeed reversible,” said study co-investigator Mary Zelinski, PhD, research associate professor at the ONPRC.
Whilst the news is promising, O’Rand and Zelinski admit that more research is needed before EP055 is officially deemed safe for human use. The next stage for the compound is to extract it into a pill which will eventually be used in a compatibility test to see EP055’s effectiveness against pregnancy.