The Benefits And Possible Side Effects Of Non Hormonal Birth Control
Naturally, there are some benefits in switching. While hormonal contraceptives dont always come with more side effects , some people feel that they reduce their chances of unpleasant side effects by coming off hormonal birth control.
Its important to remember that not everyone who takes hormonal contraception will notice any side effects. The impact birth control can have on an individual is just as unique as the person themselves. But weve all heard stories about incompatible hormonal birth control, so what are some of the most common offending symptoms?
- Irregular periods
When deciding whether to try non hormonal birth control, its important to be aware of disadvantages that could come with it, too. Some methods may require proper planning , and others require discipline . Thats why its super important to find what works for you, which were here to help with!
The Divided State Of Birth Control
The two lines of monoclonal antibodies are being tested separately, with the goal of combining them to make an effective reversible birth controlthat also provides protection from HIV and HSV. The research team is also working to make birth control applicable to people who dont have vaginas.
There is an enormous gender disparity in the use of and adherence to contraception, says Matt Geib, a PhD student in the BU College of Engineerings materials science and engineering division. He works with Anderson on optimizing the material of their dissolvable birth control film and is also researching how to use the antibodies in personal lubricants that can be marketed to men. The burden most often lands directly on people who could get pregnant, he says.
The labs boost in funding, which will also support further clinical trials, comes at a time when abortion has become heavily restricted in the United States some policymakers have also proposed limiting access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control. The race to create noninvasive, nonhormonal, reversible contraception has become even more urgent, Anderson says.
Unintended pregnancies have so many adverse effects on women physically, economically, and psychologically, Anderson says. A lot of young women find themselves without protection. Its been estimated that about 48 percent of pregnancies worldwide are unintended, she points out.
The Male Contraceptive Landscape
Although the existing contraceptive options for men condoms and vasectomies are effective, they have drawbacks. Condoms, which are not always used properly, have a typical-use failure rate of about 13 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the other hand, whilevasectomies have a high success rate, reversing the surgical procedure can be difficult, expensive and not always possible.
Were reconnecting a tube the size of about two to three hair follicles in diameter using minuscule sutures, said Amin Herati, director of mens infertility and mens health at Johns Hopkins.
There are, however, several reversible male contraceptives hormonal and non-hormonal being researched and developed. A hormonal gel called NES/T, for instance, which is applied to a mans shoulders and upper arms once a day, is in the late stages of a Phase 2 clinical trial, said Christina Wang, one of the trials lead investigators and a contraceptives researcher at the Lundquist Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The trial is in part supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is part of the NIH and has long funded research and development of male contraception.
At the moment, Wang said the NES/T gel appears to be furthest along in development, although a Phase 3 trial could take at least five years to complete.
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What About A Male Birth Control Pill
Research exists on hormonal forms of birth control for men, including a daily pill, but currently theres no male birth control pill available for men to take. There are several reasons for this.
Studies on a male pill started decades ago, but there were lots of hurdles. Researchers had to solve questions like how to make modes of delivery that last a long time. Another hurdle was how to define the level of sperm production that constitutes sterility, if it doesnt go down to zero, says Logan Nickels, PhD, research director for the Male Contraceptive Initiative.
In addition to scientific concerns, practical issues have hampered innovation and production.
A lot of the stalling of these early studies was caused by an inability to find a pharmaceutical partner to help finance the research. Lots of pharmaceutical companies in the early 2000s didnt want to get involved with new birth control methods because they were concerned about litigation.
Large pharmaceutical companies moved to a business model where smaller startups do the risky stuff and they will provide financing later on. This small space isnt at that point yet. So no products have crossed that chasm and dont have the financing. Even so, Im optimistic that a male pill will be produced within the next 10 years, Nickels adds.
Nickels suggests keeping an eye on the following clinical trials on male birth control pills:
The Popular Proteins: What Has Been Targeted So Far
Past efforts on the development of a safe non-hormonal contraceptive for men has resided on a diverse array of targets identified through both forward and reverse approaches. Forward approaches include identification of a target protein prior to drug development, while reverse approaches identify a drug with contraceptive effect prior to identification of the target protein. Often reverse approaches fail to identify specific drug targets with minimal side effects as discussed below.
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What Are Hormonal Contraceptive Methods
Hormonal methods of birth control contain either estrogen and progestin or progestin only they are a safe and reliable way to prevent pregnancy for most people. Hormonal methods include an implant, an intrauterine device , injections, pills, vaginal rings, and skin patches.
What does non-hormonal mean?
Definition of nonhormonal : not hormonal : not relating to, utilizing, or caused by hormones a nonhormonal contraception method nonhormonal acne.
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Why Choose Nonhormonal Birth Control
Hormonal contraceptives, like the birth control pill and hormonal implants, change a womanâs hormone levels to keep her body from getting pregnant. They can be convenient and reliable. But they might not be ideal choices for some people for reasons like:
- You have to remember to take the pill at the same time every day.
- You need to see a doctor for prescriptions or to insert the device.
- They donât protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
- They may raise your chances for blood clots or breast cancer, or have side effects like mood swings or weight gain.
- You may not have sex often enough to need ongoing birth control.
- You may pass hormones to your baby if youâre breastfeeding.
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Looking To The Future
Littlejohn emphasized the importance of addressing social influences such as this one that contribute to the dearth of male-oriented options. Like many things in our society, there is a focus and emphasis on making sure that the experience is tolerable for , she said, and women are just not given the same grace or consideration.
Changing the heavily gendered dynamic, she said, is critical to the successful uptake of new male contraceptives. If we want our technology to be as effective as possible, she said, then we need to keep working harder and harder and harder to change our social narratives so that our social narratives better align with the technologies once they come to market.
Reynolds-Wright, on the other hand, says social change may follow once an effective male contraceptive becomes available. Maybe Im overstating how exciting it is, but I always think of it like the iPhone. We couldnt have imagined how the iPhone would impact on our lives until it was invented. And actually, this is something thats got the potential to completely, radically change how we talk about family planning, about relationships, about sex.
Improving Young Mens Health
Young adults don’t see doctors as often as they perhaps should. For women, sometimes pursuing health care occurs because access to reliable birth control is limited if they don’t. But, more and more, there’s a move to not tie doctor visits to access to birth control.
This could benefit their overall health in a number of ways. Theyll have the opportunity to take a more active role in their care by asking questions and being more proactive. Second, doctors can address preventive care and concerns men might not otherwise bring up until theyre in crisis mode, such as high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, low libido, and other common concerns that can be prevented or managed.
‘Commercial release of could take a decade or longer, but its nice to see research pursuing new treatment options that promote shared accountability for contraception.’
Tolulope Bakare, M.D.
If DMAU works like female contraceptives, men can stop taking it and resume sperm production when theyre ready to become fathers. The ultimate goal is to create an injectable version of the drug so patients wont have to remember to take a daily pill.
In the future, teen boys might also be able to go on DMAU. Many parents already put their teen daughters on the pill to prevent pregnancy and help regulate sporadic or heavy periods. However, it will still be important to use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
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Barrier Non Hormonal Birth Control Methods
Youll probably come across this phrase a lot when researching contraception. Essentially, barrier methods are the most common type of non hormonal birth control. Thats possibly because they also work in one of the simplest ways. With barrier methods, sperm is physically prevented from reaching an egg, blocking fertilization, which is what leads to pregnancy.
Many barrier contraceptives can be easily purchased online or over the counter at any local drugstore. However, its worth noting that condoms are the only barrier methods that prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections , so you need to make sure youre protecting yourself in other ways if you use another barrier method. There are various types of barrier birth control methods, such as:
Condoms are still a popular form of birth control, despite the many other alternative options now available. In addition to preventing an unplanned pregnancy, condoms can also protect you against sexually transmitted diseases and infections. They are effective, protecting against pregnancy about 85% of the time if theyre worn before intercourse begins and dont rip. Theyre also easy to use, relatively affordable, and available everywhere.
A less widely used option, the female condom to keep the sperm from reaching the uterus. It works to prevent pregnancy similarly to the male condom, explains Dr. Arumala.
For Decades Birth Control Research Focused On Women Now There’s A New Push To Develop Gels Pills Or Other Products That Could Keep Men From Getting Their Partners Pregnant
Condoms have been used to prevent pregnancy since the Middle Ages, with the rubber version arriving in the industrial mid-1800s. Over the years, they’ve become more effective and comfortable to use.
But now, researchers are looking into both hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives for sperm bearers. The hope is that couples will begin to treat contraception more as a shared responsibility.
“We would like to create a menu of options for men similar to what women have available to them,” says Stephanie Page, a researcher and endocrinologist at the University of Washington.
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Site Of Target Expression
Potential contraceptives could hit targets expressed along various stages of sperm development in the testis and epididymis, including targets active during the maintenance of the progenitor spermatogonia pool, entry into and passage through the various stages of meiosis, spermatid development and release, and sperm maturation through the epididymis. The contraceptive potential at these various stages varies in advantages and disadvantages. Targeting genes involved in early sperm development, for instance, could potentially be more effective, as suggested by several previous reviews identifying groups of male reproductive tract-expressed genes as promising drug targets . However, disrupting the early stages of spermatogenesis poses the risk of testicular atrophy, longer recovery, and an increased possibility of irreversibility. Genes involved in later phases of spermatogenesis, namely spermiogenesis, acrosome and flagella formation, spermiation, and sperm maturation, would be more desirable contraceptive targets because testicular size would most likely remain unaffected, with a quicker, more reliable return to full fertility. Functional analysis of the expression patterns and specificity of male reproductive tract genes is imperative as it often provides additional insight into the molecular mechanisms of various stages of spermatogenesis, understanding of which is necessary in the process of developing a safe and effective non-hormonal male contraceptive.
Validation Through Ablation Creating Functional Knockouts To Verify Contraceptive Potential
Mice serve as one of the most efficient and effective models to understanding human physiology for a variety of reasons. The mouse genome is very well-characterized with almost all genes sharing similar functions to human orthologs . Mice are biologically very similar, yet because they are small and have very short lifespans compared to humans, developmental processes can be studied economically and at an accelerated rate. Genetically manipulated knockout mouse models have significantly advanced our understanding of male gamete differentiation and the molecular mechanisms underlying male fertility. Nevertheless, there is still much to be learned about these intricate processes considering only approximately half of the protein coding genes have been individually ablated in mice . By ensuring that a knockout animal model of an individual protein target of interest leads to a complete male infertility phenotype, not subfertility, confidence in potential drug efficacy is established.
Many reproductive tract-specific genes have been identified as dispensable for male fertility when individually ablated in mice . Functional compensation through upregulation of other functionally similar genes or molecular pathways may explain the lack of phenotype . Therefore, identifying a small molecule inhibitor against an individually dispensable target would yield no contraceptive effect.
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Support For Male Birth Control
Nearly 65% of U.S. women ages 15 to 49 use some form of birth control. Many women also feel like the responsibility to use birth control rests mainly on them. But male birth control research is expensive, and many developers are stopping their attempts to create additional male birth control options because of the costs.
The willingness of men to use a new type of male birth control varies widely between population groups.
A 2019 study led by the Male Contraceptive Initiative concluded that there are approximately 17 million sexually active men ages 18-44 years looking for new forms of contraception that fit their lifestyle and relationship. Of these 17 million men, 8.1 million are “very likely” to use new male methods, and 5.6 million are “somewhat likely” to do so.
Critics of male birth control point to how often men refuse and complain about wearing condoms. They say that if men are put off by the simple act of having to roll on a condom, then these same men would most likely also object to having an injection in their scrotum.
In the end, though, more options are always good. And most women will probably not object to finally be able to unload some of the burden of contraception use on men.
New Methods Currently In Development
Researchers are currently looking into several different methods of male contraception.
Hormonal methods are usually taken as a gel applied to the skin, injection to the muscle or oral pill. These methods typically contain testosterone and a progestin. The progestin suppresses two pituitary hormones that control the testes, the organs that produce sperm. While the testes require high concentrations of testosterone to make sperm, testosterone is typically included in hormonal methods to ensure that there is an adequate level of the hormone for other bodily functions. Counterintuitively, taking testosterone may also help suppress sperm production, because increasing circulating testosterone levels above a certain level suppresses the same two pituitary hormones. The addition of a progestin further enhances the suppression of sperm production.
The hormonal contraceptive candidate furthest along in development is currently in an ongoing second stage clinical study that has recruited over 400 couples across four continents. I served as the principal investigator of this trial at the Lundquist Institute. The results of the study, sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Population Council, have so far been promising with minimal side effects, and the couples have found the gel acceptable to use.
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Male Birth Control Requirements
Any birth control method must be dependable â with very few unintended pregnancies â and reversible. Some compounds, like gossypol and triptolide, are effective but can cause permanent sperm reduction.
Some important factors for male birth control are dependable and quickly reversible, few mild side effects, no effect on libido, easy to take or use, easy to access, and affordability.
Making Contraception Of The Future
The idea of using monoclonal antibodies as a means of contraception may sound revolutionary, but these sperm-attacking proteins have a surprisingly long history. Anderson was part of a team of scientists in the 1980s that tested over 200 monoclonal antibodies against sperm. The group narrowed the list down to the two most effective, Anderson says, and the one used in her work today is one of those original two.
Anderson partners with a small company in San Diego, Calif., ZabBio, to cultivate antibodies using tobacco plants, nicknaming them plantibodies. The leaves of the plant act almost like a Petri dishthe plants cells are given the human antibody genes, and the leaves produce the antibodies. Anderson and ZabBio used this technique to make anti-HIV and anti-HSV plantibodies first, and contraception plantibodies came next.
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