Over the years, contraception has become the equivalent of necessary primary healthcare.
Contraception helps prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Physical contraception like condoms can protect users from sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS and syphilis.
However, there is a significant disparity regarding contraceptive options for men and women.
While women can choose between fem shields, oral pills, or IUDs, men have limited options.
Why do we have no male contraception, despite advances in healthcare?
Could the possibility of developing male contraception lie in our genes?
Let’s find out.
Male Contraceptives: Why Do We Have Limited Options?
Unlike females, men have only two contraceptive options: condoms and vasectomy.
Many have argued that men might not be trusted to take the pill.
However, why we don’t have male contraception might be simpler than that.
Safe and reversible male contraception is much more challenging than a female contraceptive.
Women produce just one egg every month, and it is easier to stop ovulation.
On the contrary, men make a thousand sperm every second, and it is much more complicated to prevent spermatogenesis.
Women stop ovulating during pregnancy, a natural bodily process.
Lowering hormone levels can trick the body into thinking that the woman is pregnant, which will prevent ovulation.
However, no natural state of the body might prevent spermatogenesis.
So the bottom line is male contraception is harder to make.
The ARRDC5 Gene: A New Target For Male Contraception
Scientists have identified a gene that can pave the way for discovering a non-hormonal, reversible male contraceptive.
The ARRDC5 gene is found in the testicular tissues of both humans and other mammals.
Suppressing this gene can result in deformed sperm that cannot fertilize the ovum.
Studies show that this gene contains instructions to produce a protein required for average sperm production.
Disrupting this protein would not require hormonal interference, a major hurdle in developing a male contraceptive pill.
Since testosterone is also responsible for bone density and RBC production, blocking it could affect normal body functions.
ARRDC gene suppression could be a good contraception option for men since it appears to have good reversibility.
How Is The ARRDC5 Gene Related To Male Infertility?
The ARRDC5 gene is required for normal sperm morphogenesis (a process that ensures the production of fertilizing sperm).
Lack of this gene causes a condition called oligoasthenoteratospermia or OAT. It is a common diagnosis of male infertility.
In this condition, the sperms show slowed movement and distorted shape and cannot fertilize the egg.
Studies show that male mice lacking this gene produced 98% distorted sperm that moved 2.8 times slower than normal sperm.
Therefore, this gene is required for average sperm production.
Compared to women, men have very few options for contraception.
The main reason for this disparity is that male contraception is much more challenging to develop.
In women, inhibiting estrogen prevents ovulation without having significant side effects.
But in men, inhibiting testosterone could affect other physiological functions like forming red blood cells and building bone mass.
Scientists have discovered a gene called ARRDC5 in the testes that plays a crucial role in normal sperm formation.
Inhibiting this gene can result in distorted sperm formation, which will not be able to fertilize the ovum.
This method appears safe and reversible, requiring no hormonal disruptions.